The collaborative process is a very effective way to negotiate a Separation Agreement. Here, the spouses and their lawyers contractually commit to negotiating an out-of-court settlement. They meet as a team for fair and respectful negotiations. The end goal of the meetings is to reach a resolution that recognizes what is important to both spouses and allows them to move forward with their new lives. When children are involved, everyone at the table works together to ensure that their best interests are paramount. The spouses also gain from a process that is cost-effective, builds communication skills, manages emotions, and ensures cooperation from their lawyers. Not only are collaborative lawyers specially trained in out of court resolution, they commit to not fueling conflict and wasting the spouse’s time or money by prolonging negotiations and delaying settlement.
When needed, other professionals can be involved in the collaborative process to ensure that the situation is dealt with comprehensively while reducing costs. This is called the Team Approach.
Sometimes, a family relations professional is part of the collaborative team. This neutral professional provides expertise on the needs of the children. He or she can meet with the spouses (and sometimes the children) to develop a parenting plan without the involvement of the lawyers, thereby reducing costs. The family relations professional also assists with communication when the spouses and their lawyers meet together.
A financial divorce specialist could also be part of the collaborative team. This specialist gives advice regarding various settlement options. The financial professional can also help reduce costs by gathering and organizing financial information instead of the parties’ lawyers.
The collaborative process seeks to minimize all costs, be they legal, financial or emotional. It’s very efficient since the meetings with face-to-face negotiations spare the back-and-forth between lawyers. In addition, collaborative process is secure. Because both lawyers and sometimes other professionals are present during meetings, the spouses are able to make sound decisions about their future and craft a durable settlement.