Stuart Webb Interview Part Two: The Origin of Collaborative Divorce

I previously discussed the interview I did with Stuart Webb, creator of “collaborative law”. As a divorce litigator, Stuart saw many couples end their marriages with unsatisfying and even damaging resolutions. It inspired him to find an alternative approach to dissolving a marriage. This is the origin of collaborative divorce.

This blog will continue to address the question “what is collaborative divorce?” By understanding the origin of this method, how the process works, and what the benefits are, you can decide if this option is right for you.

The Benefits of Having a Team Involved in the Process

One of the advantages of collaborative divorce is that it relies on a team. This isn’t two opposing lawyers facing off in front of a judge. It’s a series of meetings where the parties voice their interests and concerns. The process pulls together a team of lawyers, as well as mental health and financial professionals.

Cooperation Throughout the Divorce

The cornerstone of the collaborative approach, Stuart points out, is the team approach. That means not just a group of professionals from different fields, but a back-and-forth conversation between the two sides. Around the time Stuart was developing the collaborative divorce method, he read the book Beyond Winning by Professor Mnookin at Harvard Law School. The book concludes by using game theory to show that having lawyers who trust each other yields the best solutions for their clients. This echoed what Stuart had seen for decades in the courtroom. The team approach—one of shared mutual respect, yields the best results for clients.

What is the Process?

Unfortunately, cooperation isn’t always easy, especially for lawyers who follow the more traditional ideology of “winning” and “losing”. In this dynamic, there can really be only one winner. In the collaborative model, you’re looking for a solution. That doesn’t mean losing. It simply means another way beyond wins and losses. And a team of professionals is there to support the clients through that process, not score a point in front of a judge.

The Advantages of Collaborative Divorce

Taking the heat off allows the divorcing parties to be more honest. When they know they’re not going to be torn apart on the stand, they’re more willing to come forward with honesty and even generosity.

The act of bringing the divorcing parties together in a non-confrontational way may seem shocking. But that’s what makes it a conversation rather than an argument. It can even yield, in my experience and in Stuart’s, happiness.

Stuart believes that now that collaborative is proven and gaining popularity in divorce, that it may be a solution beyond family law. Other civil matters involving difficult relationships—employee/employer, tenant/landlord—are also good candidates for collaborative.

Discuss the Benefits of Collaborative Divorce With an Attorney

Stuart’s book The Collaborative Way to Divorce features a test to see whether the collaborative approach makes sense for clients. Readers are often surprised to see that more often than not, it is a real possibility. If you want to learn more about the benefits of collaborative divorce and whether it is right for you, schedule a consultation with a Westchester divorce lawyer.