The collaborative process is a different way for a couple to resolve their divorce or family law case without going to court. In a collaborative divorce, each party hires his or her own collaborative attorney. The attorneys then select a divorce coach who oversees the process and working with the couple to discuss what is most important to each side and to make sure the process stays respectful and fair. A collaborative attorney is pledged to be cooperative in providing all necessary information and make all relevant financial disclosures without resorting to litigation. In fact, the entire process rests on the agreement that the parties and their lawyers will not go to court to force either side to produce documents or otherwise coerce the other party.
While the goal in both a collaborative divorce and a mediated divorce is the same—resolve the divorce without going to court— The collaborative process differs from a mediation in three key ways:
- Each side in a collaborative divorce must hire his or her own collaboratively trained attorney. In a mediation having your own attorney participate in the process is optional.
- If the case does not resolve with the collaborative process, the collaborative attorneys are not allowed to represent the same parties in the litigation. If either or both sides have attorneys in a mediation and the mediation fails to resolve the case, the lawyer for either side may represent the party in court.
- In a collaborative case, the coach is the manager—meeting with the couple, setting the agenda, managing any difficult or uncooperative personalities and similar stumbling blocks. While a mediator is also focused on helping the couple reach their goals the mediator usually does not dig into what may prevent one side or the other from reaching an agreement or otherwise manage any emotional issues than may impede the couple from reaching an agreement.
Diane M. Gaspar is an experienced collaborative attorney. She is a member of the Collaborative Law Alliance of New Hampshire and the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council.
A pre-nuptial agreement, also called an ante-nuptial agreement, is a contract between two unmarried people who are engaged to be married. The agreement may address issues such as division of property, financial support and related matters in the event the marriage ends in divorce. It may also address what happens to property when one spouse dies. A pre-nuptial agreement is very useful in instances of second or subsequent marriages, especially where children are involved.
A post-nuptial agreement is similar to a pre-nuptial agreement in terms of what it covers. However, it is completed after the couple is married. A post-nuptial agreement is useful if the finances of either party change and he or she would like to make provisions for children from a prior marriage. There are other areas that can be addressed as well.