Our Process

The Collaborative Process is a healthier way to divorce.

The end of a marriage or relationship can be tragic. The traditional process of divorcing only adds to the pain. You and your spouse may come to see each other as adversaries and the divorce as a battleground. You may experience feelings of confusion, anger, loss and conflict. Whatever you feel, it is even worse for your children.

Under such circumstances, you might find it difficult to see an end to divorce, much less imagine a hopeful future afterwards.

Collaborative Divorce Solutions of Orange County’s message to you: It doesn’t have to be this way. A growing number of divorcing couples, supported by legal, financial, and mental health professionals on the front lines of traditional adversarial divorce, demand a more constructive alternative built on fairness and respect. These professionals have developed the Collaborative Practice model.

The Collaborative Practice approach to divorce is based on three principles:

  •  A written agreement not to go to court
  • An honest exchange of information by both spouses
  • A solution that takes into account the highest priorities of both spouses and their children

Mutual respect is fundamental to the Collaborative way. You may stop being spouses, but you don’t suddenly stop being human beings deserving of dignity and consideration. When respect is given and received, discussions are likely to be more productive and an agreement reached more easily. Collaborative Divorce keeps your divorce matters private, unlike traditional litigated divorce where all of your personal business and “dirty laundry” is a public record.

Research has also shown Collaborative Divorce saves as much as thirty percent of the cost of a traditional litigated divorce.

 


Your Collaborative Team Professionals

Collaborative Divorce offers the services of legal, mental health, and financial professionals working together as a team to help our clients through the divorce process. Given that the outcome will affect lives long after the divorce is final, the goal is to help both parties make thoughtful rather than reactive decisions.

Legal Professionals: Attorneys who handle the legal aspects of your divorce to ensure all arrangements are proper, legal, and binding.

Mental Health Professionals: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, psychologists, or Licensed Clinical Social Workers who function as a divorce coach to help you deal with stress or any emotional issues which may arise for either party or your children. Your divorce coach can teach you communication skills to avoid impasses. Psychological stability from both sides is essential to making the right decisions and reaching a peaceful settlement as soon as possible. Cases with difficult child custody issues may also employ a Child Custody Specialist to assess and convey the unique needs of each child.

Financial Professionals: Financial specialists including certified financial planners, certified Divorce Financial Planners or Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) who specialize in the financial and tax aspects of divorce. Their purpose is to help both parties reach a mutually acceptable financial agreement while assisting you in making manageable long-term fiscal decisions.

Collaborative Professionals offer specialized services, having undergone extensive training in Collaborative mediation method and procedures. Members of Collaborative Divorce Solutions of Orange County have developed insights into all aspects of the divorce process. Our three independent professionals understand how to work together as a team in your best interests.

 


Timeline

While no two divorces are alike, this is what you can expect during the different stages of Collaborative Divorce as you progress through the process.

Step 1

Each spouse retains a Collaborative Team which consists of a Family Law Attorney, Neutral Financial Specialist (shared between the spouses), and may include Mental Health Professionals (Coaches), a neutral Child Specialist where applicable; and other expert professionals as needed.

Step 2

Initial meeting with all members of your Collaborative Team to sign the Collaborative Statement of Understanding, Participation Agreement and Release of Information, which applies to all participants. Review the reasons for choosing the Collaborative Process; discuss goals, immediate needs and schedule the next meeting.

Step 3

If applicable, parents meet with the Child Specialist and schedule child(ren)’s visits with the Child Specialist.

Step 4

Spouses have their individual initial meetings with Coaches to establish goals and a Mission Statement.

Step 5

Spouses meet with the Financial Specialist(s) together, and also at least once in a private one-on-one meeting. One to three individual meetings may be needed.

Step 6

Meeting with Coaches, Child Specialist if applicable, and spouses. If applicable, the mental health professionals including the Child Specialist begin work with the parents on a draft Parenting Agreement.

Step 7

Additional meetings/telephone contact with Financial Specialist as necessary. Additional meetings/telephone contact with Attorneys as necessary.

Step 8

Pre-Meeting of the professional team (without the spouses present) prior to full group meeting. Additional professional team meetings as needed.

Step 9

Telephone conference call with coaches and the Child Specialist (if applicable) prior to group meeting. The coaches work with the parents to begin work on the final draft of the Parenting Agreement.

Step 10

Meeting with the Collaborative Attorneys and each spouse to negotiate terms of the marital Settlement Agreement. Additional meetings with the other members of the professional team may occur as needed. The Parenting Plan is completed and sent to the parents and their attorneys.

Step 11

Attorneys draft and exchange legal documents including the Settlement Agreement and any additional documents required. The final documents are signed and filed with the court, and the divorce formally becomes final.


Testimonials About Collaborative Divorce

Mark H.

“My friends who have gone through litigation found it horrible and expensive.  The collaborative process short-cuts the frustration of court dates, arguing about every single point in front of a judge and the expensive costs of litigation.”

Stephen F.

“The collaborative process creates an environment of truth in which the interest of each spouse and each child are best served.”

Vicky B.

“I knew that it would be so much better for our daughter if my former husband and I could get along after our divorce because we would still have to deal with each other for the rest of our lives. We finished our divorce process a year ago.  Our daughter is emotionally stable because we are able to communicate with each other and not have hurt feelings. I have so many friends who are going through divorces and can’t even talk to one another.”

 



Getting Started

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