What Couples are a “Fit” for Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce is certainly a strong option for making the best of a tough situation. But, despite our greatest hopes, that doesn’t mean it is an ideal fit for everyone. Because it is based on true collaboration, it requires that all parties involved are fully vested and willing to be candid, honest and respectful. 

Sadly, some divorcing couples can’t fulfill those qualities, even if they have the best intentions. So, let’s talk about the qualities of divorcing couples that see the best outcomes from Collaborative Divorce:

  • A mutual willingness to listen, prioritize and the desire to move forward in a productive way (in that they can better understand each other’s needs and perspectives, even if they don’t agree) all provide a strong foundation for the Collaborative process. 
  • Those who are clear about what they want for themselves and their family into the future (beyond the divorce) but are having a hard time getting there and just need the extra non-litigious support that Collaborative team members can provide.
  • Those who are struggling to get along, but have a strong common interest to protect their children and/or their business and who want to reduce the level of stress that the divorce places on their family members.
  • Couples who don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues like child custody, support and property division, but don’t feel compelled to litigate, even though they still seek the benefits of each having an attorney.
  • Families with complicated financial situations or significant assets.  So long as full disclosure applies (often with the aid of the attorneys and the financial professional), such cases can greatly leverage the team approach of Collaborative divorce and greatly benefit from the varied knowledge and resource ideas the professional team members possess.
  • Those who still communicate with each other, even though animosities may (and likely do) exist. Sometimes, divorcing couples are just “too far down the road” and can’t see a way back to effective, productive communication or forgiveness.
  • Couples who don’t suffer from drastic power inequalities i.e. where one partner is completely domineering and the other is completely unable to speak up for themselves or voice opinions.
  • Those without a history or threat of acute domestic violence within the couple or towards the children. That is not to say that Collaborative Divorce can’t help some couples in those situations, but because of the emotional and behavioral complexities, it is more challenging to guarantee both clients will adhere to the principles of the process. Again, however, the resources and ideas inherent in the professional team approach can optimize a couple’s chance to settle instead of litigate.
  • Those without drug/alcohol addiction. The explanation from the previous point is also relevant to this point.  Addiction often causes a significant level of dishonesty, which can derail the Collaborative process.  However, the mental health professional's involvement in the Collaborative process significantly increases the opportunity for settlement, even in cases in which substance misuse exists.

If you or someone you know is trying to decide what approach to divorce is best, take the time to see how these qualities fit into the situation. If they describe you or that couple in question at least somewhat, it’s worth talking to a Collaborative attorney to see if Collaborative Divorce is the way to go.