Issues like asset division and child visitation rights can bog down divorce proceedings, lengthening a process that neither party wants to drag on, but a fresh approach to divorce mediation may help speed up the process and leave couples on better terms.

Collaborative divorce is one of the latest attempts to make the separation process as smooth as possible, and it has roots in Minnesota. According to the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (ICAP), collaborative divorce was the brainchild of Minnesota divorce attorney Stuart G. Webb.

A collaborative divorce revolves around a few principles:

  • Parties need to be upfront and honest about what they want during the proceedings.
  • Parties need to exchange information so everyone can stay on the same page.
  • Parties need to be open to the idea of working together.
  • Each person must sign an agreement saying they won’t go to court.

One of the biggest reasons why collaborative divorces are successful is because couples that are open to the idea of pursuing this type of negotiation are generally on better terms with one another. That helps foster communication, which is key to the collaborative divorce process.

Positive Statistics

The IACP conducted a study in 2010 to see how couples that went through a collaborative divorce viewed the experience.  They found:

  • 90 percent of the cases ended up being settled through the collaborative process.
  • 75 percent of couples would recommend a collaborative divorce.
  • 83 percent of clients who sought a collaborative divorce had children.

Katie Lammers, a family law attorney in Minneapolis, Minnesota, said collaborative divorces are perfect for some individuals, but avoiding court doesn’t mean the services come cheap.

“The collaborative process usually involves numerous professionals from child-focused specialists to financial professionals who are all able to give input on their various area of expertise in the divorce process,” said Lammers. “While this process is beneficial to some families, for some the process is just too cost prohibitive.”

Lammers added that many divorce cases care settled outside of the courtroom, even if the couple doesn’t specifically seek out a collaborative divorce.

“Some people think that if they are not using the ‘collaborative process’ or they have an attorney who also does litigation, that the process will quickly become a litigious acrimonious ordeal. That is not necessarily the case,” said Lammers. “In many counties in Minnesota, it is required that the parties mediate their issues before seeking relief through the court in the litigation process.”

Lammers concluded by saying that non-collaborative attorneys are keeping an eye on what does and doesn’t work, so they can continue to offer their clients the best advice possible.

“There has been a strong push in the family law community to get couples to work together to resolve challenges in creative ways. Our goal is to foster a helpful – not harmful – relationship between both parties.”

Related source: Post-Gazette