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The Collaborative Law Approach



Click the links below to learn more about Collaborative Divorce from two couples who have experienced it.

Part 1 Video

Part 2 Video

We are glad we chose Collaborative Law for our divorce.  The process wasn’t easy – it stretched us more than we anticipated – but the result was worth it.  Our advice to you is this: “Stick with it.  These decisions are too important to be left up to a stranger.” 

– Jennifer and Ted V., parents of Clarke and Michelle

I was very nervous before our first Collaborative Law meeting.  My husband and I had not had a meaningful conversation since he moved out, and my imagination was running wild with all the things that could go wrong for me.  I think I took three breaks during that first meeting, just to make sure I didn’t completely lose control in front of my husband and his attorney.

I learned from that meeting, though, that the Collaborative team was going to make sure that my voice was heard during our meetings – just as they were going to make sure I was aware of my husband’s interests. I was especially grateful to my husband’s attorney.  He made me feel that what I was saying was important to him, even though his job was to represent my husband.  I began to actually look forward to our meetings in a strange way, because I felt stronger and more in control of my life after each one.  My attorney became my “gentle agent of reality,” as she liked to call herself.

A turning point came for me during one meeting when my husband was trying very hard to show me how I should invest the assets I was getting from our divorce so they could last me for the rest of my life.  It hit me that what he was telling me made a lot of sense, and that maybe he was really trying to be kind to me, instead of trying to control me, as I had assumed.  I looked at him and said, “Thank you.  I appreciate the fact that you care about my future.”  At that moment I think I let the seeds of forgiveness into my heart, and I believe it encouraged my husband to be more generous with me than either of us had ever considered.

At the end of the process, I still felt sad that my marriage was ending.  I knew a lot more about myself, though, and I felt that the relationship between my husband and me was in tact, although it was certainly different than the way I had hoped it would be.  Now, we can be at our son’s events together without being uncomfortable. We have talked, and I don’t think either of us has any regrets about how we handled our divorce.  The Collaborative Law process truly allowed us to make the best of a bad situation.

– Catherine R.

There were many times that either my wife or I wanted to give up on the Collaborative Law process when we hit a rough spot.  Each time, our team reminded us of what we had identified in the early meetings as our “underlying interests” and had us re-evaluate whether we were moving toward satisfying those interests.  I learned to quit thinking of the divorce as a competition between my wife and me and realize that [our son] will be better off if we are able to work together as his parents.  I have seen the damage that gets done to relationships between parents and children when they engage in a court battle.  I feel certain that my son’s life will be better because his mother and I chose the Collaborative Law process for our divorce.

– Glen P.

My husband had started a business during the marriage that has done very well.  I could not run the business and we could not agree on how much it was worth, so I was very afraid that I was going to be a bag lady while my husband lived high on the hog. When I found out that Collaborative Law was an option I felt I was a good candidate for it, but I had my doubts about my husband.  He had been very secretive with me, and I was not convinced that I could trust him.  We both agreed to try Collaborative Law when our lawyers suggested that, as part of the process, we could include a neutral financial advisor on our “team” who would talk to us about how to divide our assets in a way that would meet both of our needs.  I don’t think either of us would have signed up for Collaborative Law if the financial expert had not been there.

The financial neutral helped us come up with a settlement that both my husband and I agreed would work.  Part of the plan was an agreement by each of us that, if we ever remarried, we would enter into a pre-marital agreement keeping the assets that came from our divorce separate and that those assets would be left to our children and their families at the time of our death – something that our attorneys were quick to tell us we would never get in court.

Last December, my ex-husband and I were able to stand together in church at the christening of our first grandchild.  Since that is something my parents were never able to do for me, I am grateful that I took a chance on Collaborative Law.

– Rachel B.


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