What is Collaborative Practice?

A way of approaching the end of your marriage…
that does not use or threaten “going to court”…
that is focused on the future needs and interests of you and your spouse…
that supports each of you during the rough parts of the process…
and achieves a foundation upon which each of you can move forward.

Ending a marriage is in essence the reshaping of a relationship. At the end of your marriage, you will have an “ex-spouse”. Even if  you don’t have children together, that relationship will continue “till death you do part”. What you have control over is the quality of that relationship. Will it be strained and painful? Or will it be peaceful and productive? Only you two can determine that.

When you hear the word “divorce”, you likely think of a battle that takes place in court. Husband and Wife fighting; lawyers arguing; bills mounting; and ultimately a judge deciding how you and your ex-spouse and your children are going to live your lives going forward. And how you will split whatever money is left after all those bills.

For a small number of people, that’s the only way they can do it. But it doesn’t have to be that way. For most people there is a better way.  A Collaborative Law Divorce is a commitment to create a positive future for both spouses and for any children.

It begins with a written agreement. Everybody involved commits to focus their whole efforts on meeting the needs of both the husband and the wife, plus any children, as they move from a single household to separate lives. They agree that they will work together to use what they had during the marriage to support what is needed to create the futures they each desire.

They agree in writing that they will NOT take the details of the dissolution of their marriage to a judge to decide; that they will not even threaten to do so. Instead they work out the details themselves in a series of “four way” meetings. Some of those will be with their attorneys, some with their coaches, some with both, and even with any other professionals the spouses may desire.

They also agree that if going to court becomes “unavoidable”, that if the parties simply have run out of ability to work together, then each spouse’s attorney and any other professional involved in the Collaborative process will be disqualified from appearing in court for either spouse. [You can find more information, including a “Will it work for me?” section and other professionals trained in this approach at the IACP website and at the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois site.]

Based on both of your needs, we might discuss bringing in a single Financial Specialist to advise you both of ways of using the assets you have together to achieve the needs you each have going forward.

If you two have children together, we will work together on the special concerns and needs of co-parenting. We will always be focused on something you two almost certainly agree on: your desire for the best for your children. If needed, we’ll all talk about the possibility of bringing in a single Child Specialist to advise you both as to what might work best for your children.

Here’s 1) a tape from the Today Show in which two attorneys and their clients talk about the Collaborative Process, 2) a simple outline of the process created by an attorney in England, 3) a video of two more clients describing their experience with Collaborative Practice:


Prominent Collaborative Professional Pauline Tesler describes the process and how to determine whether it’s right for you.

Resolving Disputes Respectfully