Collaborative Divorce Work Process
Written by Mary Ann Hess

How Does the Collaborative Divorce Process Work?

Find out more about how collaborative divorce works to help determine if the process is right for you.

The Collaborative Divorce process can help couples reach out-of-court agreements on key terms of divorce like division of assets and debts, legal decision making and parenting time, spousal maintenance, child support and more.

The process of collaborative divorce includes:

1. Conversation Between Spouses

The first step is to have a conversation with your spouse to decide if both of you are willing to participate in the collaborative process. If either spouse in unwilling to accept the formalities of this out-of-court option, the collaborative process won’t work.

2. Each Spouse Hires Their Own Attorney

When choosing an attorney, you’ll want to hire one who has experience with collaborative divorce. An attorney who suggests they can represent you in court if collaborative process fails is not familiar with the collaborative process.

After choosing attorneys, you and your spouse will each meet with your respective attorneys. This is when you should confirm that you will use collaborative process. While you may think you know your desired outcome, you’ll learn a lot in collaborative process that could broaden your perspective.

What are your limits? What are you willing to accept? How will assets and debts be divided? The early part of the process is for figuring out all the questions that you’ll need to answer to achieve a satisfactory outcome. The answers come along the way.

3. Build Your Team

Your attorney can explain the role of the other professionals on a collaborative team, including a neutral financial professional, child specialists, and one or two communication coaches. You and your spouse will determine which of these professionals is the best “fit” for your case and they will become part of the “team.”

4. Sign a Participation Agreement

Once both spouses have decided to use collaborative process to end their marriage, the next step is attending your first collaborative meeting with your lawyers and other professional team members. During the first meeting, everyone will sign a “participation agreement” committing to the formalities of the process. You’ll leave the first meeting knowing the schedule of remaining meetings and a general estimate of when you will complete your divorce.

5. More Collaborative Meetings

You’ll need to plan attend several other collaborative meetings with the different professionals, as well as a final meeting to sign your agreements and other paperwork.

6. Draft and Submit the Agreement

Once an agreement is reached, it’s drafted in a legally binding form and submitted to the court for approval. The collaborative process means that nearly always, your divorce will be an uncontested and straightforward procedure.

Collaborative Divorce Works in Most Cases

Collaborative divorce is an option for resolving divorce cases where both sides are willing to engage in discussions to help them agree on divorce-related issues such as child visitation, parenting time, etc. However, if your case involves parties that refuse to participate in good faith or involves significant domestic violence, collaborative divorce may not be your best option.


  1. “How Collaborative Divorce Works: FAQs.” Findlaw,
  2. Heinig, Melissa. “How Does Collaborative Divorce Work and Is It Right for You?”, Nolo, 29 June 2018,
  3. Hickey, Holly. “Is Collaborative Divorce Right for You?” The Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, 9 Apr. 2018,

See Also:

Collaborative Divorce is a Peaceful Divorce Option

Divorce litigation can be scary and emotionally draining for you, your spouse, and your children. But it doesn’t have to be that way with collaborative divorce. The collaborative process can result in a less expensive, more efficient, and less harmful outcome for everyone involved. One of the legalfinancial, and communication professionals at Best Legal Choices can help you navigate this difficult time in your life.


The collaborative divorce process is designed to help people who are willing to work together to make an agreement that benefits the family. Resources that help parents communicate effectively during this process can help them model appropriate behavior for their kids. With love and support, children can more effectively deal with their parents’ divorce. Contact one of the professionals at Best Legal Choices if you’re ready to take the first step toward starting your new life.