Compelling Evidence That Collaborative Divorce Works

Divorce is inevitably an emotional journey, but it doesn’t have to be a hostile one. Collaborative divorce is a way to legally dissolve a marriage without litigation or animosity–and with a great deal of dignity. Why does Collaborative Divorce work?

History of Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce is grounded on cooperation between the divorcing couple. The brainchild of Minnesota divorce attorney Stu Webb, the model was first developed in 1990 after he grew fatigued by the hostile and litigious nature of divorce. Deciding to change direction, he built a community of lawyers who agreed to commit themselves to reach out-of-court settlements exclusively for their clients. The idea was to make divorce a “win” for both parties in the couple. This is different than traditional litigation that follows the “win/lose” model.

Why Collaborative Divorce Works

In a collaborative divorce, both the lawyer and the divorcing parties are present. They agree in writing to refrain from using or threatening to use the courts to resolve problems during the negotiation process. Instead, the couple and lawyers use good-faith negotiation and problem-solving skills to reach a resolution. If either party breaks the agreement, the collaboration lawyers cannot participate in litigation against the other party.

Today, every state in the U.S. acknowledges collaborative divorce, as do numerous other countries. An estimated 50,000 couples in the U.S. and Canada have chosen this method to dissolve their marriage, and more than 20,000 lawyers have trained as collaborative divorce lawyers.

Is it an Effective Process?

There’s substantial evidence that collaborative divorce works. For example, in 2010, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) Research Committee surveyed 933 collaboration professionals throughout the United States and Canada. The IACP found that in 86% of these cases (of which 97% were divorce cases), the parties fully resolved all issues without resorting to court. An additional 2% of the cases ended in reconciliation between the clients.

The Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals performed a similar survey of 101 Florida collaboration professionals. It found that between 2013 and 2018, 92 percent of the collaborations, of which 93 percent were divorce cases, ended in full resolution of the issues.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that collaborative divorce is more emotionally healthy for families than traditional divorce. Some parents have reported that collaborative divorce helped improve their relationship with their former spouse and allowed them to co-parent harmoniously. While there needs to be more academic research on the topic, observers note that children of high-conflict divorce suffer high levels of trauma.  If a non-contentious yet effective approach to divorce can prevent that, it seems worth a try.

If you would like to explore collaborative divorce or learn more about it, contact the Miller Law Group today.