Embracing Collaborative Law: A More Positive Approach to Divorce for Families

Divorce is an emotionally challenging process that can have a significant impact not only on the couple involved but also on their children and extended family members. Traditional adversarial divorce proceedings can often exacerbate conflicts, leading to a long and bitter legal battle. However, there is an alternative approach that aims to minimize conflict and prioritize the well-being of all family members involved – collaborative law.

Understanding Collaborative Law

Collaborative law, also known as collaborative divorce or collaborative practice, is a non-adversarial approach to resolving divorce and family law issues. It seeks to promote cooperation and open communication between the divorcing parties, their attorneys, and other professionals involved in the process. The primary goal of collaborative law is to reach a mutually acceptable settlement that meets the needs and interests of all family members, especially the children.

In a collaborative divorce, both spouses commit to resolving their disputes outside of court and pledge to work together in good faith. They may each be represented by collaborative attorneys who are specially trained in this approach. Additionally, the couple may engage the expertise of financial specialists, mental health professionals, and child specialists to ensure a comprehensive and fair resolution.

The Collaborative Process

Initiating the Process

To begin the collaborative process, both spouses must agree to participate voluntarily. They sign a “participation agreement,” which outlines their commitment to transparency, mutual respect, and a shared desire to find a resolution without resorting to litigation.

Open Communication

Collaborative law encourages open and honest communication between the parties. Rather than viewing each other as adversaries, they are encouraged to work together to find common ground.

Expert Involvement

In addition to collaborative attorneys, the couple may choose to involve financial experts, child specialists, and mental health professionals. These experts provide valuable insights and help the couple make informed decisions that consider the well-being of all family members.

Negotiation and Settlement

Through a series of meetings and negotiations, the spouses and their collaborative team work to find solutions that address the various issues related to the divorce, such as child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division.

Legal Finalization

Once the couple reaches a settlement agreement, it is submitted to the court for approval. Since the collaborative process is non-adversarial, court involvement is typically limited to the final approval of the settlement.

Benefits of Collaborative Law

Reduced Conflict

By promoting respectful communication and cooperation, collaborative law helps to reduce conflict and tension between divorcing spouses. This approach fosters a more positive environment for addressing sensitive issues.

Emphasis on Children’s Well-being

Collaborative law places a strong emphasis on the best interests of the children involved. By involving child specialists and mental health professionals, parents can better understand and address their children’s emotional needs during the divorce process.

Control and Flexibility

Collaborative law allows the couple to retain control over the outcome of their divorce, rather than leaving the decision-making to a judge. This leads to more personalized and creative solutions that may better suit the family’s unique circumstances.

Efficiency and Cost-Effectiveness

Compared to traditional litigation, collaborative law can be more time-efficient and cost-effective. By avoiding prolonged court battles, couples can save on legal fees and associated expenses.


The collaborative process takes place in private meetings rather than in a public courtroom, ensuring greater confidentiality and privacy for the family.

Pertinent Laws about Divorce

It is essential to note that the specific laws and regulations regarding divorce may vary depending on the jurisdiction. In the United States, divorce laws are primarily governed by state laws, and each state may have its own set of rules regarding property division, child custody, and support.

In general, a collaborative divorce must still adhere to the relevant divorce laws and legal procedures of the jurisdiction where the divorce is taking place. The collaborative process is a method of dispute resolution and negotiation, rather than a replacement for the legal requirements of divorce.


Collaborative law offers divorcing families an alternative, more amicable approach to ending their marriage. By focusing on cooperation, open communication, and the well-being of all family members, collaborative divorce can help pave the way for a healthier and more positive post-divorce family dynamic. While it may not be suitable for all cases, it is undoubtedly a valuable option for those looking to minimize conflict and maintain a respectful relationship during and after the divorce.

In choosing the collaborative approach, families can navigate the complexities of divorce with dignity, compassion, and a focus on the best interests of everyone involved.


For more information on collaborative law and finding collaborative law practitioners in your area, you can visit the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) website at www.collaborativepractice.com. The IACP is a global organization dedicated to promoting collaborative practice as a peaceful and effective method of dispute resolution in family law matters.


De Bord, E. (2015). Collaborative Law Handbook. American Bar Association. ↩

Litz, J. E., & Litz, J. (2016). The Case for Collaborative Divorce. Family Court Review, 54(3), 481-492. ↩

American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. (2021). What is Collaborative Law?

Moore, J., & Bales, R. (2017). Collaborative Law: A New Paradigm for Family Law. Family Court Review, 55(3), 413-425. ↩

American Bar Association Section of Family Law. (2013). Benefits of Collaborative Law.

National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. (2018). Uniform Collaborative Law Act.↩

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