Collaborative Divorce is the centerpiece of an alternative vision of divorce that seeks to preserve relationships, respect, and trust and accomplish a fair and workable result. This alternative vision encompasses legal processes that are used in a helpful, rather than harmful, manner. As a result, in the Collaborative Divorce process, relationships with children and extended family tend to be better preserved and supported. Collaborative Divorce has been around since 1991, and since 2000 in Massachusetts. For more information see Laurie Israel’s articles on Collaborative Divorce on the Articles page.
Laurie Israel was in the first group of Massachusetts attorneys trained in Collaborative Divorce in 2000, and has practiced Collaborative Divorce continuously since then. She is well known in the collaborative community, and is a former board member of the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council. Karen Van Kooy is a trained collaborative lawyer and is also work on collaborative cases. People are starting to hear about Collaborative Law — it is more and more in the news media. In fact, Roy Disney and other prominent people are using Collaborative Practice to work out a civilized, practicable and fair divorce. Word is definitely getting around about the usefulness and power of this type of divorce resolution.
The premise of Collaborative Divorce is to resolve the divorce though a series of four-way meetings between the clients and their respective attorneys, in which all issues are presented and openly discussed. Often there is a fifth person at the meetings — a neutral party who is a advisor and coach for the prcoess called a neutral process coach. There is a commitment not to litigate (with these attorneys) at the outset. The provides a safe container for the process. Another important feature is the mutual respect between the spouse and the other spouse’s attorney that develops. For more information on Collaborative Law and the various organizations that promote it, visit our links page and our articles page.
Collaborative Lawyers are trained in problem-solving techniques. Most Collaborative Lawyers are also trained in mediation. Both of these trainings are unique and powerful. Laurie Israel is a former board member of the Massachusetts Council of Family Mediation and practices divorce mediation as well as collaborative law. Experienced Collaborative Lawyers stay current on their collaborative skills and techniques by attending ongoing advanced training sessions. The result is that effective agreements on issues can be crafted in a manner that preserves the parties’ relationships to the utmost. For other attorneys working in these fields, visit our links page.
In a Collaborative Divorce, the meetings stay far away from accusations and blaming, and tend to be on the positive side. They are actually fun (perhaps more for the attorneys, than for the clients, admittedly). Everyone is nervous about the first meeting — even the attorneys, because no one knows what the solution to the “puzzle” (i.e. the terms of the divorce) will be. But Collaborative Law techniques can assist parties and their counsel in almost always finding solutions. Collaborative Divorce encompasses a thoughtful process with a generally less painful outcome (in terms of not causing harm to relationships) than a litigated divorce. And the solutions often are more creative and fulfilling than the ones that come from a conventionally negotiated divorce or from litigation.
Not every divorce can be handled by Mediation or Collaborative Law, but it makes sense to see if the divorce you’re concerned about can be resolved by these techniques. A good divorce is a precious thing indeed.