The Collaborative Divorce Process
Collaborative Divorce Process is a progressive team-based alternative dispute resolution process that is legal in Arizona under a Rule that was passed in 2016. Collaborative divorce relies upon a client-selected professional team that brainstorms together as a team to resolve all of the divorce issues in meetings a conference table and not in the courtroom in front of the judge. In fact, once the case is opened, the Attorney will file a Notice of Collaborative case with the Court, and then the Court is no longer allowed to schedule any hearings during this case.
The idea of collaborative divorce process dates back to the 1980s when Attorney Stu Webb from Minnesota, pioneered the idea. It became a formalized process that is now being taught and practice all over the world since 1990.
Collaborative divorce is a process that enables a divorcing couple to choose their own team of professionals—including a collaborative attorney for each party, a mutually selected collaborative financial neutral—to help them resolve the financial issues in the case and a collaborative coach who handles the parenting issues and also usually facilitates full team meetings.
The collaborative process can start by the parties selecting their professional team. They can even meet with their financial neutral to start the marital asset/debt negotiations even before the full team engages in its first full team meeting. It is usually best that at the very beginning of the case, the full team meets to schedule all of their meetings in advance that includes separate meetings with their neutral coach or if it the two-coach model, with their own coach, and separate meeting with their financial neutral. At this meeting everyone (the full team) reviews the Collaborative Commitment Agreement together, signs it, and then get start on the most pressing issues to be addressed at the time in their case.
Cases vary in the number of full team meetings that are required and the number of separate coach/attorney and financial neutral meetings are required. After many agreements are reached, the attorneys will divide the document writing work and usually one attorney will prepare the final Consent Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, and the other attorney will prepare the separate Parenting Plan or the separate Property Settlement Agreement.
There are several advantages of collaborative practice over litigation:
Collaborative Divorce Process helps people resolve their legal disputes without going to court that results in a faster resolution of the case.
Collaborative Divorcee Process will save you time and money because the formality of the contested case is reduced, there is no formal discovery with deadlines and the document preparation is conducted with the financial neutral. And the professionals are usually very experienced and handle things more expeditiously from many years of experience and expertise.
Collaborative Divorce Process lowers stress because you do not have the anxiety-producing events of court hearings and the expensive preparation of those hearings. The meetings also include the involvement of a neutral coach or two coaches if using the two-coach model, and their job is to stabilize the emotions and the communication for the entire team and especially the spouses.
Collaborative Divorce Process places control in the hands of divorcing partners to define their own solutions with the help of the expansive expertise of the professionals they chose, while working with their collaborative team.
Private, Full and Open Disclosure
The Collaborative Divorce Process involves full disclosure and transparency of all relevant information by both spouses, and further this takes place in private with no public filings about family issues or the marital assets. This is especially attractive to people who relish privacy, known public figures, movie stars, politicians and wealthy people. And, it works just as well for middle class families for the exact same reasons who want the value of a professional team.
Team of Trained Professionals
Collaborative Divorce Process involves a mutually selected team of trained professionals, including attorneys, financial advisors, communication experts, and child specialists. All team members are or should be trained in the collaborative process and are skilled in their own area of expertise, which enables them to work together to ensure the best possible outcome for all parties. Often times there is a collective amount of professional experience at the table that exceeds 100 years.
The Collaborative Divorce Process helps parents focus on their children’s needs by creating effective parenting plans, developing a structure for co-parenting into the future and reducing the negative effects of divorce on children. If there are unique challenges the team will engage a Child Specialist to focus on the needs of the Child(ren) and ensure that their needs are understood and discussed for optimal care and planning.
Collaborative Divorce Process provides divorcing partners with the opportunity to work together to reach mutually acceptable agreements in a dignified and respectful manner. In short, it is more progressive, than the old litigation model, because people are evolving socially and the Courts are simply slower to catch up. The legal system follows the evolution of society and that is the reason Collaborative Process was around for many years before it was codified by Arizona in 2015.
Collaborative Law in Arizona
In Arizona, the Uniform Collaborative Law (UCL) became effective in 2015. In Maricopa County, there is an active organization, The Collaborative Professionals of Phoenix (CPP), organized in 2017, largely through the effort and advocacy of Cristi McMurdie and other devoted and active professionals. The organization meets bi-monthly to provide training and familiarity with members for the formation of future teams for divorce cases. The CPP sponsors annual training events that feature national trainers and encourage professional development among collaborative team members and to expand the roster of active professionals. All CPP Practitioner Members must complete training in the full-team interdisciplinary collaborative divorce model and must meet additional educational, credential and experience requirements for membership in order to sit on a professional Collaborative Team.
People choose Collaborative Divorce Process because they have a greater say in their cases and can control the pace at which they work. The Process also respects privacy, allows people to build their own teams, and facilitates an equitable resolution outside the court system.
Whether you choose a collaborative divorce or traditional representation, McMurdie Law and Mediation is committed to helping develop resolutions that are healthy and beneficial to all parties. Call McMurdie Law and Mediation at 480-777-5500 today to schedule a consultation.