A specific modality where couples reach out-of-court agreements in their divorce, represented by their Collaboratively trained lawyers and often with the support of neutral professionals, including financial specialists, coaches (who are mental health professionals), parenting specialists and other trained professionals who are useful to the resolution process. The goal is for the parties to work through and create their own durable agreements with the support of the professional team. Unlike traditional divorce, where attorneys are referred to as “opposing counsel” in the Collaborative process, the attorneys are known as “counterparts” and are actively engaged in maintaining a high integrity process for the participants and ensuring that each party’s needs and interests are heard.
The fundamental tenets of Collaborative Law are transparency, exceptional communication and an interest based approach that respects and honors the participants. There are no time lines, no high pressure tactics, no hide the ball and much of your agreement can be kept confidential when completed.
Almost everyone, even very un-amicable divorcing couples can participate in this process. The attorneys and professionals are highly skilled and passionately creative about keeping you out of court. A hallmark of the Collaborative process is the ‘disqualification clause’, meaning that in the unlikely event that an agreement is not reached, neither attorney can represent you in a later divorce litigation, and all documents and information gleaned during the Collaborative process are protected and can’t be used in court, thus protecting the sanctity of the Collaborative negotiations.
Without the structure of a Collaborative Law Participation Agreement, couples can still commit to staying out of court with their divorce. Staying out of court requires a commitment from both parties to work through the issues and come to agreements. In an informal cooperative model, it is easier to escalate to litigation and there are no restraints to going to court.
I practice a facilitative/transformative style of mediation, where we are all in the room together. In the traditional litigation style mediation, each party is in a separate room, and the mediator goes back and forth between them, usually manipulating information provided to each party in order to effectuate an agreement. This type of "shuttle" mediation generally ends with a high pressure, last minute, "Do you really want to waste all this time and money just because of not agreeing to that?" signing an agreement. Usually no one is happy and neither person feels empowered. In the model that I employ, we discern your highest values, your goals and your authentic interests, all the while recognizing what a challenging and scary time this may be. I encourage active and empathetic listening and joint problem solving. We look toward the future — for you individually, and for your family.
I provide guidance as you work through your divorce process. This is highly customized to the person or couple.
What if you don’t have a partner in peace? Dignified Divorce represents very limited clients in litigated matters on a case by case basis, always using integrity and an eye toward a better future as the guiding principle. If you have been falsely accused of domestic violence in the context of your divorce, my experience as a criminal defense attorney is useful in supporting your journey through this process.
This is a getting to know you session, either individually or with the couple. During this session, we discuss your particular circumstances and glean what style of dissolution would suit you best. Prepare to get educated! People generally experience relief and a sense of hope when they gain awareness of the options available to them.
Pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements
Pre marital or post marital contracts are a popular way of making choices regarding property and other issues of interest to a couple. Any style of amicable decision making, from Collaborative to Coaching can be employed to support creating an agreement.
I welcome and encourage you to contact me for information.
Thank you for all you have done. It is comforting to know that I have an attorney of great skill and understanding if I need one. — Sincerely, B.J., Retired Amherst Professor