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The progressive and wholistic Collaborative Divorce Process can trace its start to the genius of a Minnesota attorney, Stu Webb in 1990. Since the initial inception of collaborative divorce at the end of the 20th century, the concept and practice has spread across the United States as well as Canada, and Australia. Collaborative divorce is also being utilized in some European countries at this point in time. In order to understand collaborative divorce, there are a number of facts and points you need to understand:

  • Definition of collaborative divorce
  • Uniform Collaborative Law Act
  • Benefits of collaborative divorce

Definition of Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce is defined as a legal process that enables a divorcing couple to choose their own team of professionals including collaboratively trained attorneys, a collaborative coach and the collaboratively trained financial neutral to meet and assist the parties to resolve certain parts of the case a case without going through the court process or a formal trial. Collaborative divorce espouses the concept that settling a divorce case offers the best opportunity for meeting the needs, goals, and objectives of each party to a divorce. Collaborative therefore greatly contrasts with the uncertainties associated with court proceedings, including a divorce trial.

Collaborative divorce is selected voluntarily by the Parties. It can begin when a couple signs a contract known as the Participation Agreement listed above OR, it can begin when one party hires a collaborative lawyer and then requests the other spouse to retain a collaborative lawyer.  In fact, it can also begin when the parties choose their financial neutral and collaborative coach and then start to work with their attorneys after they have actually met with their selected financial neutral and collaborative coach.  Each spouse involved in a collaborative divorce process has their own individual attorney who have entered an agreement that states that if the court becomes necessary to resolve issues, these particular attorneys are conflicted off the case and the parties would be left to select new lawyers for the coming litigation including any hearings or trial. With this Collaborative Commitment Agreement in place, all parties and professionals including the lawyers have a vested interest in resolving it entirely. In the first full team meeting, the team reviews the Participation Agreement to ensure that each party and professional understands it and then signs it.  With the aid of the binding agreement, it is a great way to begin a family law case.

Uniform Collaborative Law Act

The Uniform Collaborative Law Act was recently finalized and has since then been adopted by many states such as Arizona in 2015.  By enacting the uniform statute it provides a structure of collaborative divorce, a given state might make some modifications to the “template” created by the Uniform Law Commission. However, even with what typically are more minor modifications, there is a great deal of commonality between the states that have enacted this legislation in recent years.

In Arizona, the Uniform Collaborative Law was enacted in 2015.  In Phoenix, Maricopa County has an active organization of collaborative practitioners who work hard to share the Collaborative process and train other professionals so that it is more readily available and understood by people who may wish to utilize the process of collaborative law.  Learn more about collaborative divorce at International Association of Collaborative Practice and locally at Collaborative Professionals of Phoenix.

Because of her knowledge and experience with collaborative law, Cristi McMurdie has contributed articles and been a guest speaker on the topic. Here are some examples:

Collaborative Practice for the Best Divorce Outcomes

Imagine being one of the key players on the 1980 US Hockey team that triumphed over the USSR. That meteoric event was labeled a “Miracle on Ice” and later became a famous movie. There is nothing better than being an integral part of a stellar winning team that produces results people dream about for years to come.

Cristi McMurdie with McMurdie Law and Mediation explains how Collaborative practice uses a team approach to create masterful and beneficial holistic legal results for clients, in this recent article published on DivorceTownUSA.com:  Read now: https://www.divorcetownusa.com/articles/collaborative-practice-for-the-best-divorce-outcomes-283

Designer Divorces: Can You Keep the Dirty Laundry Private?

You’ve read the tabloids…the salacious divorce details of the world’s rich and famous. Yet, somehow other equally powerful people manage to dissolve their unions with virtually no disclosure to the public, and maintaining a modicum of a relationship. How is this done? Meet the “designer divorce,” better known as the collaborative model.

“Is That Even Legal?” podcast host Attorney Bob Sewell and guest and collaborative divorce guru Cristi McMurdie, explore this alternative approach to untying the knot. Listen to the full podcast here: https://mcmurdielaw.com/designer-divorces-can-you-keep-the-dirty-laundry-private/

Benefits of Collaborative Divorce

There are a number of significant benefits associated with a collaborative divorce. These include:

  • Simpler process for accomplishing a marriage dissolution
  • Lower legal and professional expenses associated with ending a marriage
  • Achieve a settlement of a divorce case satisfactory to both parties by the parties and the team
  • Immediately stabilize the situation between divorcing spouses via early interim agreements
  • Voluntary exchange of all relevant, necessary information
  • Develop a meaningful protocol for addressing post-divorce issues

Not all attorneys are trained in collaborative divorce. With that said, if you are interested in obtaining a collaborative divorce, you want to avoid going on a fishing expedition in search of a trained attorney. Your local bar association or the bar association in the state in which you live should be able to provide you some guidance in finding a collaborative lawyer to assist you should you elect to go that route in regard to your own divorce.


McMurdie Law and Mediation is dedicated 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.