The first step in starting a collaborative divorce is to contact one of our collaborative attorneys to set up an initial consultation. During that consult, you and the attorney can explore the specifics of your situation and determine if your case is appropriate for the collaborative process. This interview will also give you an opportunity to ask and have answered any questions that you may have about divorce in general and the collaborative divorce process in particular.
You should also share this website with your spouse. Since the collaborative process requires both parties to commit to a non-litigated divorce, your spouse will also need to consult with a collaborative attorney.
In advance of your consultation, you will want to start gathering financial information concerning your income, assets and liabilities. These documents may include a recent income tax return, current pay stubs, statements on your investment and retirement accounts and for mortgages, home equity loans, credit cards, personal loans and the like. The more information you are able to provide to your attorney, the greater the ability of the attorney to provide you with advice tailored to your individual circumstances. However, there will also be opportunities to obtain the necessary documents from your spouse or other sources after the initial consultation and your attorney can assist you in this regard.
Once you and your spouse have selected collaborative attorneys, an initial four-way meeting will be set up with the assistance of your counsel. You and your spouse and your respective attorneys will meet together to talk about your divorce goals and the collaborative process and a plan will be established to address all of your individual needs and those of your family. In collaborative divorce, the process can be made to fit the client — not the other way around — so each family will be treated individually.
The goal of the process is to reach an agreement on all issues. Once that occurs, one of the attorneys will prepare a draft of a settlement agreement. When both parties and their attorneys are satisfied with the agreement, the parties will sign it. Only then — after all issues have been resolved — will one party’s attorney file a Complaint for Divorce. It will not take long after that for the divorce to be concluded since all issues other than the entry of the divorce itself will have been resolved. The court will be asked to grant you a divorce and a Judgment of Divorce will be entered.