Your marriage is no longer working, and you want to move forward with your life. Recognizing that divorce is the next step, you and your spouse or partner want to avoid as much conflict and pain as possible and spare your children any fall out trauma. One option you may consider is a collaborative law divorce.

Collaborative law is a form of alternative dispute resolution with no court intervention. It encourages former spouses/partners to work together to reach amicable resolutions. Through this process, you and your former spouse/partner are each represented by an attorney and can build a team to economically and amicably navigate the process. Alternatively, the case can be initiated through a financial or coach, who will be a member of the collaborative team which is built by agreement of the parties. At the outset, you sign a contract stating that if you do not resolve your issues, you must retain new attorneys to pursue litigation. You also agree to share all documents and relevant information as to all issues attendant to your divorce. By this agreement, all parties are encouraged to work together to settle the issues of a divorce not only amicably, but fairly and with all information needed to make informed decisions.

The collaborative process encourages compromise and decision making with the parties in control of the outcome. During the process, you and your attorney/team meet regularly with your spouse/partner, his or her attorney, and other team members, such as coaches and financial neutrals, in a series of well- planned meetings. You discuss issues like property and debt division, parenting plans, and support. Trained collaborative professionals focus on minimizing conflict and encouraging communication between former spouses. You and your former spouse/partner will negotiate and compromise on the terms of your divorce.

Settling conflicts together and learning effective communication strategies makes the process much less adversarial. Everyone works together to help you think creatively outside of the box and consider a multitude of possible solutions from which you can select what best will work for you and your family. It also gives you important skills that will prove helpful, if you and the other party share children and will continue to co-parent.

If there are financial concerns or questions regarding custody, tax accountants, financial planners or parenting or divorce coaches can be part of the team you build to help with decision-making. (it was recommended to remove this sentence since mediation can be part of the collaborative process). The parties, with their attorneys’ help or the help from other professionals can build an efficient team that can best help them through the process in the most economical manner possible. Using other experts can sometimes be quite cost effective.

A collaborative law approach is typically much quicker than settling a divorce through litigation. Since it settles faster and you can use the team approach, it is usually much less expensive. By keeping it out of the courtroom, it also keeps your divorce proceedings private, so the details of your split do not become a part of the public record.

If you want to settle your divorce quickly, without too much expense and avoid conflict, a collaborative divorce can provide a good alternative. Think about it!

About Maribeth Blessing

Maribeth Blessing is the owner and principal of Law Offices of Maribeth Blessing LLC and Maribeth Blessing, Mediation & Arbitration LLC. She concentrates her practices in Family Law, with some additional work in simple estate documents. Maribeth is a Peacemaker, trained extensively in mediation, arbitration, collaborative family law, and parenting coordination. She also offers unbundled services in addition to her peaceful practice and litigation practice. Maribeth is a member of numerous organizations and has presented many continuing mediation and legal education courses. Her vast achievements, awards and active memberships can be found on her web site at www.mbfamilylaw.com. Come peruse at your leisure.

Learn more about Maribeth Blessing.

Members of the Collaborative Law Professionals of Southeastern Pennsylvania serve individuals in Bucks County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia.