Collaborative Divorce FAQs

Here are the most frequent collaborative divorce questions.

Collaborative Divorce sounds great for couples who are getting along, but my spouse and I have had a lot of problems. Can we still use Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce isn’t just for couples who are very amicable. Collaborative doesn’t require that you have no problems in your marriage–just that you’re willing and able to commit to negotiating honestly to do what’s best for you and your kids.

That said, Collaborative is not for everyone.  Situations in which there is a power imbalance between partners, such as where there is domestic violence are often not well-suited for Collaborative. Collaborative is not the best choice if the parties cannot trust each other to be honest. If there are problems with addiction or with mental illness, Collaborative Divorce might not be the best option. If you have concerns about the suitability of your case for Collaborative, discuss them with a qualified Collaborative attorney.

I think Collaborative Divorce is the right option. How can I convince my spouse?

A spouse might be reluctant to commit to Collaborative Divorce for a number of reasons: he or she may not want the divorce; he or she may fear being taken advantage of; or he or she may simply not understand what the process involves.  There’s no way to make someone agree to a Collaborative Divorce, but you can make it easier for them to choose it.

Many people are unfamiliar with the concept and the process, so you can provide resources such as links to the Collaborative Practice Institute of Michigan and the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, which offer a wealth of information your spouse can digest at his or her own pace. You may want to share your own motivations for choosing Collaborative, such as wanting to reduce stress for your children. Often, when people learn more about Collaborative, they are much more willing to give it a try.

If you are ready to get started with the divorce, but your spouse is resisting, a divorce coach may be able to help him or her accept this reality in a way that will be less upsetting than being served with divorce papers. Contact your collaborative attorney to discuss enlisting the help of a divorce coach.

With all those professionals involved, isn’t Collaborative Divorce financially out of reach for most people?

Actually, people are often surprised to learn how affordable Collaborative can be. It’s true that all the professionals involved are compensated for their services. The difference is that their services are targeted and tailored for the situation, so clients are receiving good value for their money.

Although most divorces ultimately do settle, in traditional divorce cases, attorneys must prepare the case as if it’s going to trial. That means hours of discovery, including depositions and sifting through piles of documents. There may be many hearings, which means paying for hours of preparation, and then more hours in court. The process takes longer, so costs are incurred over a longer period.

Money Magazine, in a July 2005 article, estimated that the a divorce that would cost $35,000 if handled in the traditional (litigated) way would cost from $12,000 to $20,000 if done collaboratively.

My spouse has already filed for divorce! How can we convert the case to a Collaborative one?

If your spouse’s attorney is not trained in the Collaborative process, he or she would have to be willing to get another attorney who is. Even if the other attorney is trained, the divorce case may have to be dismissed while the Collaborative process moves forward.

It is possible, if your attorneys agree, to negotiate collaboratively without dismissing the court case, but this may make the process more difficult and is a less than ideal solution.

How do I find Collaborative professionals,  like a divorce coach, or a lawyer for my spouse?

If you already have a Collaborative attorney, he or she can likely recommend skilled Collaborative professionals from prior experience with them. If your spouse is uncomfortable with this, you can search for skilled professionals through the website of the Collaborative Practice Institute of Michigan (CPIM). You can search by name, profession or geographical location.