Collaborative Law

  • Collaborative Divorce

    •  Divorce without litigation 
    •  Team approach 
    •  Attorney support throughout
    •  Creative solutions to fit each family’s needs
    •  Respectful and non-adversarial process
    •  Client-centered negotiation
    •  Neutral financial and custody specialists, as needed  
    •  Out-of-court settlement

    What is Collaborative Divorce?

    Collaborative divorce is a new and unique team-based form of Alternate Dispute Resolution.  The process is designed to provide additional support to the parties to help them transition their family through divorce and into the future.  In the Collaborative process, each party is represented by a collaboratively trained attorney.  The parties and their attorneys sign a Participation Agreement in which they commit not to file a Complaint for divorce until all the issues are resolved.  They also agree that if they need to retain financial or custody experts, they will use joint experts who are also collaboratively trained.

    How is Collaborative Divorce different?

    In a collaborative divorce, parties and their attorneys meet together to work out the issues.  The clients lead the discussion while the attorneys play a supporting role. There is a commitment to share all information in a cooperative and constructive atmosphere.  The focus is on addressing the needs of all the family members as the couple and their children transition to the future.  The emphasis is on working cooperatively while still allowing the attorneys to advocate for the parties.  Shielding the children from the stress that a litigated divorce creates is also a top priority.

    What are the advantages of Collaborative Divorce?

    In a collaborative divorce, your attorney is by your side throughout the process.  You and your spouse share your respective concerns, interests and needs in a trust-based environment.  Not only is the process confidential, but the information shared there cannot be brought to the court.  Since only neutral experts are used and there are no court proceedings until the final divorce, the cost of a collaborative divorce is far less than that of a litigated divorce.  Collaborative divorce is a constructive — rather than a destructive — process.  Its goal is to promote good communication between the spouses and to avoid making adversaries out of you and your spouse .  The process is relatively quick and is usually concluded in less than six months with an agreement which is custom-tailored to your family’s individual needs.

    Are there disadvantages to Collaborative Divorce?

    Both you and your spouse must retain a collaboratively trained attorney for the divorce to proceed in this process.  Although few collaborative cases break down, you should be aware that if one of the parties decides to file a Complaint with the court pre-maturely, the collaborative process must end immediately and the parties must each retain new litigation counsel as their Collaborative attorneys are precluded from litigating except in emergency circumstances.

    How do I choose between mediation and Collaborative Divorce?

    The Collaborative process can work in any divorce, but is especially well-suited for couples with complex financial and/or emotional issues since the Collaborative Team includes a Divorce Coach who is a trained mental health professional.  The Team can also, when needed, include a neutral financial professional to address complex business, investment or tax issues.  A Child Specialist can also be brought in for particularly difficult custody and/or parenting time issues.  The emphasis in the Collaborative process is to provide whatever expertise will help the parties transition through the divorce and place them in a better position to communicate afterwards. 

    Mediation is a less expensive process and is often selected for that reason.  The mediator directs the discussions and attorneys play a lesser role as they are consulted outside the sessions.  Mediation can also work in any type of case but is especially well-suited for couples with less complex financial and/or emotional issues since the parties are essentially negotiating their own agreement with the assistance of the neutral mediator.  While attorneys can be brought to the mediation sessions, this is usually the exception in a divorce mediation.


    For more information about Collaborative Divorce, contact Risa A. Kleiner, Esq. at 609.951.2222 or by email at  Helpful websites include and