4 Benefits of a Collaborative Divorce

While couples still promise to "love, honor and obey until death do we part," important bits and pieces around the corners of the institution keep changing in essential and surprising ways.

How Marriage Has Changed

First came states passing laws that allowed divorce on the grounds of mutual incompatibility. In other words, the couple grew apart. These are called "no fault" divorces.

Then, prenuptial agreements were developed whereby partners agreed that, upon divorce, each would take what assets they brought to the marriage, plus half of what they earned together while married.

In the 1980s, psychotherapist Katherine Woodward Thomas described the "art of completion." She postulates that separation and divorce need not be painful and destructive, but instead viewed as an opportunity to complete the natural course of the relationship, "that will leave you feeling whole and healed and at peace."

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow and husband, British frontman for "Coldplay" Chris Martin, are fans of this method and announced their own "conscious uncoupling" in March 2014 after 10 years of marriage and two children.

The Development of Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce was organized under the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) in the 1990s by a group of lawyers, financial planners and psychotherapists.

Like prenuptial agreements and conscious uncoupling, collaborative divorce seeks to keep couples from tearing their families apart while in the act of separation. Not long ago, couples assumed that their divorce had to be filled with hate, selfishness and even brutality.

How Is Collaborative Divorce Different?

There are both innovative and good old-fashioned common sense within the precepts of the collaborative divorce.

  1. Agreements replace accusations. In the mid-20th century and earlier, couples wishing to divorce needed "grounds." Usually, the husband was a gentleman and offered himself as the cad so his wife could sue for divorce on the grounds of adultery.

    The agreements used in collaborative divorce are much more civilized and beneficial. The parties write a collaborative participation agreement with the help of their lawyer and other professional.

    The agreement sets forth the nature of the separation and its scope. This agreement itself greatly reduces the stress of the divorce. With everyone signing the agreement as to what went wrong and what they will do about it, there is no reason for argument or hurt feelings.

  2. Both husband and wife volunteer to disclose all relevant facts that pertain to the divorce. When both parties tell the whole truth about important matters and work together in good faith, it is a powerful tool to reach mutually acceptable settlements.

  3. A variety of necessary professionals help the couple through the process. The couple each should be represented by a qualified attorney who specializes in collaborative divorce, but the need for help doesn't stop there.

    The collaborative divorce includes an entire team to help the couple in every way necessary: mental health professionals, financial planners, child specialists and coaches. Each couple designs their own divorce to suit their circumstances.

  4. Courtroom drama is avoided. The entire separation and divorce can be handled with quiet and polite collaboration around a conference table in a quiet room. The cost, stress and rancor are all far lower.

The process of separation and divorce has undergone a stepwise progress from nightmarish proportions so great that divorce was an anomaly. Now, couples can quietly and intelligently go their own ways without rancor.

To find out if a collaborative divorce is an option for you, speak with an experienced divorce attorney near you today!

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