How Collaborative Divorce Works

Collaborative DivorceAccording to the CDC, the divorce rate in the United States is 2.7 per 1,000 people. Unfortunately, as a result of this number, roughly half of all marriages end in divorce today.

If you’re ready to separate from your spouse, you’re certainly not alone. Additionally, you’re in a position to learn from the experience of others before you rush into decisions that aren’t in your favor.

In recent years, people like yourself have found that collaborative divorce gave them the closure they need in their lives. But, having an understanding of its definitions and procedures can go a long way toward making you feel comfortable with this choice.

Take notes and read below if you’re ready to find out what a collaborative divorce lawyer can do for you.


Instead of engaging in a costly and lengthy courtroom battle, a collaborative divorce allows you to problem-solve together. In concert with attorneys and spouses, couples may find a way to reach a mutual solution. But, more importantly, you can both walk away with more of what you desire.

Collaborative Divorce vs. Mediation

Negotiating the terms of a divorce in a collaborative setting sounds like a mediation on its surface. However, there are distinct differences between these legal strategies.

During mediation, an impartial third party manages discussions between spouses going through a divorce. In many cases, you may try this instead of hiring legal counsel. However, these meetings are less formal, and the mediator does not have the power to decide what happens with your case.

A collaborative divorce involves meetings between the spouses and their respective attorneys. If you cannot reach an agreement, you may proceed to litigation in court.

The core advantage of both options is the lower cost. Court fees and lawyer bills stack up fast for even the least complicated cases that get heard in front of a family law judge.

How a Collaborative Divorce Works

After both sides hire a specially-trained collaborative divorce lawyer, they must also sign a crucial document. These four-way sessions happen when the parties involved agree to sign a “no court” agreement. This legally binding order announces your intentions to avoid leaving the final terms to a judge’s discretion.

These formal sessions often include topics like the following:

  • Alimony
  • Child Support
  • Distribution of marital property
  • Child custody and parenting time

In some cases, other professionals may participate, like accountants or child specialists. Having these parties present often occurs when there are sticking points in the negotiation. Bringing these experts in can also happen when specific legal expertise is needed.

The primary reason for taking this approach is to avoid a legal process based around staking adversarial positions. Having a formal procedure and a binding solution by the end is one of the reasons why people love collaborative law.

Decree of Divorce

Assuming that your sessions with lawyers yield results, the final step is a Decree of Divorce. This legal framework includes the details you’ve negotiated, and it goes to a judge for their decision.

Both parties need to sign this legal document, and it may not require appearing in court for approval. However, the American Bar Association says this is necessary to show that a valid marriage does not exist anymore.

Advantages of a Collaborative Divorce

Now that you have an understanding of the essentials, it’s time to understand the motivations. After all, why would someone choose this route instead of the traditional method of going to court? Discover the advantages others have enjoyed by reading below:

Best of Both Worlds

For many people going through a divorce, mediation can help reduce animosity and take significant steps toward a resolution. But, since a lawyer is not always present, you may not always act in your best long-term interests.

Having a divorce attorney by your side in a more flexible environment can give you the best of both worlds. You can avoid expensive fights in the courtroom while maintaining some of the structure that keeps things moving.

Easier on Children

Alternative divorce options offer the significant advantage of protecting children from harsh situations. In cases where children clearly suffer through hearings, judges can order different accommodations or fast-track the legal process. Because of this dynamic, everyone may find the courtroom experience more stressful than it needs to be.

Beyond working with your divorce attorney, specialists can come into a collaborative process to deal with the family dynamics. Having this kind of trained individual involved can help keep the meetings from spiraling out of control.

Less Expensive Divorce

Legal disputes where parties have animosity toward each other cost more than simple ones. This fact is essential to understand before you try to go scorched-earth on a spouse. In the end, you might only burn yourself and your wallet because you refused to negotiate.

In the judicial system, family law concerns can take years to resolve. This fact especially applies if a couple has a contentious relationship. Knowing that you’re going into the process to avoid a dispute in court can motivate even the most stubborn among us.

Want to Learn More About a Collaborative Divorce?

In summary, a collaborative divorce works by adding formality to what can otherwise be less structured and productive. Mediation can be healthy, but it also has its limits. This type of legal separation from your spouse can provide the framework you need to reach an agreement without even more expensive trips to the county courthouse.

Do you need more advice beyond what this article provides? Cleveland Divorce Law is ready to answer your questions and help you make the right decision for yourself and your family. Contact us through our website, or call 216-381-3400 today!

Contact Anna M. Petronzio

Anna M. Petronzio, a Cleveland, Ohio collaborative and mediation divorce attorney, co-founded Petronzio Schneier Co., LPA in 1993 after graduating from Catholic University of America (B.A. 1990), Suffolk University Law School (J.D. 1993) and John Carroll University (M.A. 1999). Anna is a member of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar, the Geauga County Bar, the Justinian Form and she practices in Cuyahoga, Geauga and Lake counties. Anna is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) and a founding member of the Cleveland Academy of Collaborative Professionals (CACP).

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