What is Collaborative Divorce?

The phrase “collaborative divorce” may sound contradictory to many. Most people associate divorce with heated arguments, long legal battles, and immense emotional pain. But as society’s understanding of relationships and separations has evolved, so have the methods to dissolve marriages. However, “collaborative” does not necessarily mean amicable. The conversations that people have during divorce are often very difficult. “Collaborative” refers to how the attorneys work together to help the couple reach an agreement.

The Basics of Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce is a legal, alternative dispute resolution process in which couples, with the assistance of collaboratively trained professionals, work together to negotiate the terms of their divorce without resorting to litigation. Instead of relinquishing control to a judge, spouses and their respective attorneys work in group meetings to negotiate an agreement that respects the needs and interests of both spouses and, potentially, their children.

The Collaborative Process

1. Engaging Collaboratively Trained Attorneys: Both spouses hire attorneys trained in collaborative law. Instead of competing against one another in court, these attorneys agree to resolve the issues surrounding the divorce through collaborative meetings and commit to withdrawing from the case should it proceed to litigation.

2. Team Approach: Depending on the needs of the family, the collaborative team might include other neutral professionals such as child specialists, financial experts, and therapists. These professionals work together to address the varied aspects of a divorce — from asset division to child custody considerations.

3. Open Communication: Meetings are scheduled where all parties discuss the issues at hand. Rather than the adversarial environment of a courtroom, these meetings aim to facilitate open dialogue where each person can express their concerns and hopes for the future.

4. Different Tools in the Toolbox: Collaborative attorneys are trained in Interest-Based Negotiation, a form of negotiation created by the Harvard Negotiation Project and described in Getting to Yes. Instead of focusing on rigid, position-based negotiation, collaborative attorneys focus on finding the interests most important to spouses as they transition through divorce.

5. Confidentiality: Discussions and information exchanged during the collaborative divorce process remain confidential. This can be especially beneficial when parties want to protect their children or business interests.

6. Signed Participation Agreement: Both parties sign a participation agreement, also called the pledge. This document solidifies the couple’s commitment to the collaborative process, outlines the responsibilities of all parties, and stipulates that the attorneys will withdraw from the case if the collaborative process breaks down and litigation is pursued

Benefits of Collaborative Divorce

1. Reduced Emotional Strain: By focusing on interest-based negotiation rather than adversarial confrontation, collaborative divorce can significantly reduce the emotional distress associated with separation. This can be particularly beneficial for children who are often caught in the middle.

2. Control and Autonomy: Spouses maintain control over the outcome, allowing for solutions that reflect the unique needs and dynamics of their family.

3. Cost-Efficient: Collaborative divorce can be more cost-effective than traditional litigation because it often requires less time and fewer resources.

4. Preservation of Relationships: Especially crucial for couples with children, collaborative divorce often preserves a functional relationship between ex-spouses, easing co-parenting after the divorce.


While collaborative divorce offers numerous benefits, it’s not suitable for every situation. For instance, in cases where there’s a significant power imbalance, or if there’s a history of unacknowledged abuse, this method may not be ideal.

In a world where change is constant, the way society approaches divorce is evolving. Collaborative divorce stands out as an approach that emphasizes respect, understanding, and disclosure. It offers a more humane way to navigate one of life’s most challenging events, keeping the emotional well-being of all involved at the forefront. If both parties are committed to the process, collaborative divorce can turn the end of a marital chapter into the beginning of a more harmonious post-marriage relationship.

Is Collaborative Divorce Right for You?

Navigating the complexities of divorce can be emotional, challenging, and daunting. But it doesn’t always have to be a battleground. Collaborative divorce offers a compassionate, constructive way forward, keeping the well-being of all parties at its core.

If you’re considering a change in your marital status and are exploring alternatives to the traditional adversarial process, our team is here to guide you. We specialize in collaborative divorce, ensuring a smoother transition for both partners and minimizing the strain on families.

Every situation is unique, and it’s essential to understand all your options.

Contact our Carolina Collaborative Law today at (984) 301-1441 to schedule a consultation. Let’s explore if collaborative divorce is the right path for you and your family.