5 Common Misconceptions About the Collaborative Process

The collaborative divorce process is a method of resolving disputes and reaching a settlement agreement without going to court. While it has gained popularity as an alternative to traditional litigation, there are some common misconceptions about the collaborative divorce process.

Here are five misconceptions about collaborative divorce:

  1. It is the same as mediation: While both collaborative divorce and mediation are alternative dispute resolution methods, they are not the same. In mediation, a neutral third party helps facilitate negotiations between the parties, but they do not provide legal advice or advocate for either side. In the collaborative divorce, each party has their own attorney who provides legal guidance and support throughout the process. Additionally, the collaborative team includes a neutral facilitator and financial professional who provide guidance in their area of expertise, to help resolve all aspects of the case. These additional professionals typically are not present in a mediation setting.
  1. It is an easy or quick process: Collaborative divorce is often portrayed as a simpler and faster way to resolve disputes compared to litigation. While it can be more efficient than going to court, both in regard to time and costs, despite it being quicker and easier to manage than a litigated case, it is not necessarily always a quick or easy process. It still requires ample amounts of communication, negotiation, and the ability to reach compromises. The complexity and length of the process will depend on the specific issues involved and the willingness of both parties to work together.
  1. It guarantees an amicable divorce: Collaborative divorce aims to promote respectful and amicable communication between the parties, but it does not guarantee that the divorce will be entirely without conflict. Divorce is an emotionally charged process, and there may still be disagreements and tensions that arise during the collaborative process. However, the goal is to manage and address these issues in a constructive manner, minimizing the adversarial nature of traditional litigation. That is where hiring the right team of professionals comes into play. It is important to hire highly skilled collaborative professionals that truly abide by their training and whose experience helps them successfully navigate difficulties that are routinely present in any divorce, including one being handled within the collaborative process.
  1. It is only for couples who get along well: Collaborative divorce is beneficial for couples who have a high level of conflict as well. In fact, one of the purposes of collaborative divorce is to help couples who have difficulty communicating or reaching agreements. The process allows for the assistance of trained professionals, such as collaboratively trained attorneys, neutral facilitators with a background in mental health and family matters, divorce coaches and/or child specialists, who can help navigate and manage the conflict. This team approach is what helps minimize the conflict that would otherwise run rampant in a litigation setting.
  1. It eliminates the need for lawyers: While collaborative divorce encourages a cooperative approach, it does not eliminate the need for legal representation. Each party in a collaborative divorce process has their own attorney who advises them on their legal rights and helps negotiate a fair settlement. The attorneys play a crucial role in protecting their clients’ interests and ensuring the process remains fair and equitable.

In conclusion, understanding these five nuances of the collaborative process can assist couples in making informed decisions about how to approach their divorce and foster better outcomes for all involved parties.