Collaborative Divorce FAQ


Collaborative divorce is a peaceful alternative to conventional divorce, focused on coming together with your spouse to work towards mutually beneficial decisions – without fighting it out in court. At Applied Divorce Solutions, we help families amicably resolve financial and emotional issues and move forward from separation and divorce.

Here are 10 frequently asked questions about the collaborative divorce process and how Applied Divorce Solutions can help.

If you’re considering collaborative divorce for you and your family and have more questions, feel free to reach out to Donna Smalldon for more information as well.


1. What Should I Expect from Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce is a voluntary dispute resolution process. Couples come together during sessions along with legal representation to discuss issues and decide on resolutions.

Here are some logistics that allow these negotiations to remain fair and respectful:

  1. The parties sign a collaborative participation agreement describing the nature and scope of the matter.
  2. The parties voluntarily disclose all information which is relevant and material to the matter that must be decided.
  3. The parties agree to use good faith efforts in their negotiations to reaching a mutually acceptable settlement.
  4. Each party must be represented by a lawyer whose representation terminates upon the undertaking of any contested court proceeding.
  5. The parties may engage mental health and financial professionals whose engagement terminates upon the undertaking of any contested court proceeding.
  6. The parties may jointly engage other experts as needed.

2. Am I a Good Fit for Collaborative Divorce?

Conventional divorce can be emotionally exhausting and damaging. If you’re looking for a healthy alternative that helps maintain respect during the divorce process and focuses on amicable solutions, collaborative divorce may be a good fit for you.

Here are some values that could indicate that collaborative divorce is likely to be a workable option for you:

  1.  I want to maintain the tone of respect, even when we disagree.
  2.  I want to prioritize the needs of our children.
  3.  My needs and those of my spouse require equal consideration, and I will listen objectively.
  4.  I believe that working creatively and cooperatively solves issues.
  5.  It is important to reach beyond today’s frustration and pain to plan for the future.
  6.  I can behave ethically toward my spouse.
  7.  I choose to maintain control of the divorce process with my spouse, and not relegate it to the courts.

Does this approach to solving divorce issues sound and feel comfortable for you, rather than pursuing a court battle? Collaborative divorce is likely an option worth pursuing to resolve divorce issues in a healthy, family-focused way.

3. How are Collaborative Divorce Sessions Different from Mediation?

Both mediation and collaborative divorce involve a neutral and fair mediator, but collaborative divorce allows for additional professionals to be present during sessions.

Each party must be represented by a lawyer, and therefore has access to legal advice during the process. Parties may also engage other professionals as needed, such as mental health specialists, financial professionals, and/or other experts to provide support.

Additionally, during mediation a neutral mediator can provide information that help parties make their own decisions. During collaborative divorce however, lawyers can provide legal advice and suggestions to aid in the decision making process.

The collaborative divorce option allows you to feel confident with legal support present, without needing to go to court.

4. Can I Have Legal and Expert Support During Collaborative Divorce?

Yes. Each party will need to be represented by a lawyer.

Additionally, you can choose to engage other professionals and experts for divorce help and support. Divorce coaches and child specialists, for example.

This allows for each spouse to have access to legal advice during the sessions, creating a fair environment and offering couples the confidence to come to mutual decisions with the help of an expert.

Collaborative divorce lawyers (along with any additional experts) services would terminate upon the undertaking of any contested court proceeding.

5. Will I Still Need to go to Court?

If you and your spouse are able to come to mutual decisions during collaborative divorce sessions, you will not need to go to court.

Many couples find that collaborative divorce allows them the benefits of legal counsel, without the lengthy court battle. Instead, decisions can be reached with more control of the results in confidential sessions together.

The success of collaborative divorce really depends on the communication (if any) between the divorcing couples and their level of animosity for each other. If either one of the spouses is unwilling to budge from their certain position on a divorce issues, divorce issues can take longer to solve.

There is also the potential that couples may end up in court, if collaborative negotiations cannot be resolved amicably. Once this happens, communication is shut down and the fight begins.

However, if you believe there is opportunity to try working out divorce issues amicably with the help of lawyers in this no-court setting, the advantages of avoiding a court battle make collaborative divorce worth it.

6. How Long Does the Collaborative Divorce Process Take?

The typical collaborative divorce case is settled in less time than conventional divorce litigation in court.

On average, pre-decree collaborative divorce can be completed in 4-10 sessions.

That being said, the length of the collaborative divorce process depends on what issues have been agreed to prior to sessions, and those issues that still need to be addressed during the sessions.

Also, the amount of time spent in collaborative divorce sessions is contingent upon you and your spouse’s willingness to come to agreements that are equitable for the both of you, along with your willingness to do what is in the best interests of your children.

The time spent in mediation can be reduced if you and your spouse are able to come to agreements prior to sessions, or at least narrow down your options to a few workable ones.

7. Is Collaborative Divorce Less Expensive than Court Litigation?

Yes. Collaborative divorce is typically less expensive than a traditional court battle.

Collaborative divorce provides a low-cost alternative to conventional divorce, often resolving in much less time than a court battle to save on costs as well.

The advantages of avoiding a lengthy fight in court, having more control over results, and reducing effects on your children make collaborative divorce an emotionally and financially healthy solution.

Applied Divorce Solutions can help cover your choices and options for amicably resolving your divorce issues.

8. Why Not Just Fight It Out in Court?

Collaborative divorce provides a safe space to confidently come to mutually beneficial decisions for your family.

Conventional divorce in court can be emotionally destructive to families, and long court cases can accentuate negative effects, along with causing escalating costs.

Court litigated cases can lead to more spite and frustration between the divorcing couples, usually leading to a lose/lose situation for both. Not many people walk away from a litigated divorce feeling satisfied, as they have less control over the outcome.

During collaborative divorce sessions, couples take the control back into their own hands to decide what is best for their family.

Rather than leaving the decisions for what happens to your children and assets up to judges and litigation attorneys, couples that use collaborative divorce end up feeling satisfied with the agreements they had reached together.

Collaborative divorce can help maintain more control over decisions, come to fair and amicable resolutions, reduce negative effects on your family, and avoid escalating costs.

9. Should I Discuss Divorce Issues with My Spouse Outside of Sessions?

If you and your spouse are able to comfortably discuss issues prior to sessions, any decisions or narrowing down of options can help speed up the divorce process.

The focus of collaborative divorce is to reach those decisions eventually, and if you and your spouse can be on the same page prior to the meetings then resolutions can be reached with greater ease.

If you and your spouse are not able to discuss your divorce outside of collaborative divorce sessions, it is strongly recommended that you avoid it at all costs. When couples try to work out issues on their own and it leads to arguments and “drawing lines in the sand”, it makes deciding on resolutions during sessions more difficult and time consuming.

When in doubt, waiting for the support of the mediator, lawyers, and other professionals during collaborative divorce sessions helps with the decision making process.

10. How Should I Prepare for Divorce?

Collaborative divorce allows for a more hands-on approach to resolving divorce issues. With this added benefit of having more control over decisions, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared (both emotionally and logistically) to constructively negotiate with your spouse.

Here is a helpful list on how to prepare for collaborative divorce:

  1. Envision civil negotiations. A good mindset from both sides and a healthy motivation to cooperate is essential to resolve issues.
  2. Make a checklist of issues to discuss at each session.
  3. Sketch out a parenting plan or two.
  4. Gather financial documents.
  5. Strive for fairness in asset and debt division.
  6. Draft a prospective monthly budget for you (and your children).
  7. Address the inevitable shortfall (e.g., earning more, making do with less).
  8. Consider spousal support and calculate child support.
  9. Consult a family lawyer and/or other experts for support.
  10. Monitor your attitude. Stay positive, flexible, and empathetic. It’s better for you and for your children, and will lead to mutually beneficial decisions.

Contact Applied Divorce Solutions

Collaborative divorce can offer a healthy alternative solution to a court battle, while maintaining control of the outcomes, limiting effects on children, and lowering divorce costs. Couples can come together to resolve divorce issues respectfully, with the support of legal and expert advice.

If you’re interested in learning more about how collaborative divorce can work for your family, or have more questions on the process, contact Applied Divorce Solutions today to receive a complimentary consultation.