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Collaborative Divorce

The best protection against damaging myths is to feed your mind every day with positive information about handling divorce with grace, dignity, and creativity. Collaborative divorce teams work expressly with divorcing couples to keep them focused on the positive, on the future, on solutions – on half full rather than half empty.

 - Pauline Tessler, MA, JD, and Peggy Thompson, Ph.D., Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative Divorce helps you through the emotional impact of divorce.

The break-up of the family can be traumatic. It impacts each partner and each child in different and unexpected ways. The emotions range from anger to sadness to fear. Almost all of the family members know their worlds will drastically change. It may be impossible to see a clear future – and yet the present is just so painful.

If you find that your family is breaking apart emotions can cloud your ability to make effective legal decisions. Collaborative Divorce is compassionate, and future-focused. Collaborative Divorce will help you and your family address your divorce's emotional aspects and help you plan for a future that meets the needs of the entire family.

What is Collaborative Divorce?

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In the collaborative divorce process, the clients work with collaboratively trained attorneys to represent them during team meetings. And that's one of the great benefits, I think, of collaborative divorce, is the team process. So both of the clients and their attorneys represent them at the table. But also, possibly at the table, depending on the needs of the clients, are other neutrals who can focus on the needs of the clients. So that could be a financial neutral, who is looking at the assets that the family has and working with the family to help them figure out a way to distribute the assets. There's also the divorce coach, who as a neutral, works with both parties to help them through the emotional processes and emotional issues that often arise during the divorce. Other neutrals that can work with and be part of the collaborative team are child specialists, who can work with the parents to help guide the children through the divorce process. The benefit of having this team is that, the team works with the clients to work through the process. There are often three or four meetings that go into the resolution of the divorce process, as many meetings that are as needed, to address all of the issues.

Collaborative Divorce is one of the best options for a divorcing family. During the collaborative divorce process, the family is surrounded by a supportive team that will help them through the divorce process, with an eye toward a collective future for your family. Generally, the team includes you, your partner, and the collaboratively trained lawyers. Other members may include a divorce coach and financial professional, depending on your case's complexities. The process requires openness and a frank, sometimes difficult, exchange of information and options between the team members. The clients agree that they will not run to court until after they try to cooperatively resolve many difficult issues such as:

  • custody, 
  • parenting time, 
  • equitable distribution of property, 
  • spousal support and 
  • child support.

One of the hallmarks of Collaborative Divorce is the focus on interests rather than positions. The interest is the underlying reason for a position - the reason behind a person's needs, desires, concerns, and fears. The attorneys encourage openness and joint discussion of challenging issues by committing not to representing the spouses in litigation if the process falls apart. The team works closely to put the many problems and options on the table to allow them to make the best decisions for their family.

Collaborative Divorce allows your family to control the decisions made during the divorce.

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Clients are often happier with the result because they are the ones who are driving the resolution. They are working with their attorneys to understand the legal issues, of course, but it is the clients who are driving the resolution. And when you come to your own resolution, as opposed to having a judge essentially force a resolution on you, you're more inclined to be accepting of that resolution.

A divorce is a deconstruction of a marital partnership. Difficult decisions are necessary to address child custody, parenting time, spousal support, or equitable distribution of property. In the collaborative process, the clients retain the ability to control the decisions about their future with the help of the collaborative team. In a litigated divorce, the judge may make the decisions. Unfortunately, the judge could never have all the information about the marriage and therefore cannot make a decision that will benefit the entire family. One parent may lose while the other parent wins. Collaborative Divorce allows the clients to make the best decisions for the family. Both parents, and the children, win.

Collaborative Divorce helps you to manage emotions.

The process also helps the parties address and manage the emotions that can cloud judgment and effective decision-making. The team process is crucial and may help the clients manage stress. The team provides emotional encouragement and helps the clients communicate effectively and help ensure that they understand the other's interests. The team helps to identify joint goals that drive the process forward. The process is not adversarial and is therefore not driven by an individual desire to benefit from the court's decision at the other spouse's expense.

Collaborative Divorce is private and confidential.

The process is private and confidential. A litigated divorce is typically not private and court filings invite the public to learn information that many people may not want others to know.

In a Collaborative Divorce, you control the timeline.

The clients control the timeline, not the courts. Almost all decisions are made cooperatively through multiple team meetings that are calendared a few weeks apart. This means that the clients are not beholden to the court's calendar. The team meets as few or as many times as necessary to jointly address all the outstanding issues.

Collaborative Divorce is cost effective.

Composer Richard Wagner said, "Divorce is one of the most financially traumatic things you can go through. Money spent on getting mad or getting even is money wasted." Collaborative divorce is the most cost-effective process, especially compared to litigation. The team agrees to share all the necessary information in advance of meetings. An agenda drives each meeting, so there are no surprises that will up-end the schedule. The costs for the Divorce Coach or the Financial Professional, if needed, are usually split between the parties. Each client has an attorney who helps that client and the team understand the various legal options. And ultimately, the team can take as much or as little time as needed to make decisions that meet the family's needs.

A Collaborative Divorce is distinct from a litigated divorce. In a litigated divorce, both spouses hire an attorney and separate mental health professionals. Each spouse may hire a financial expert. There are possible in court fights around issues that include, but are not limited to, custody, parenting time, spousal support, and assets distribution. Litigation does not address stress and negative emotions. Therefore, neither of the parties truly trusts the motives of the other. The parties never learn to communicate and do not address past bitterness and resentments. Not only are the litigation costs usually higher than the price of a collaborative divorce, the per dollar benefit of the collaborative divorce usually outweighs the cost of litigation.

Clarity Law LLC charges a flat fee for representation of a client during the Collaborative Law process. Please see the Costs and Payments page for more information. This does not include the cost for other professionals who may make up the rest of the team.

Collaborative Divorce helps your family to identify a cooperative future.

The Collaborative process also helps put the family onto a cooperative path well into the future. A divorce impacts the immediate family, as well as extended family and friends. Even though the couple will no longer be married after a divorce judgment, the divorcing couple may be involved with each other long into the future. At the end of the divorce process, the divorced couple may often interact. The Collaborative Divorce team will help both spouses be comfortable and happy with the collaborative process's decisions. If that can happen, both enjoy their futures without resentment or anger.

Clarity Law can help families in Northwest Oregon. Contact Clarity Law for more information.


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