Collaborative Family Law

Helping you navigate the uncertainty of divorce, separation, and child custody

What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce allows you and your spouse (or you and your former life-partner, if unmarried) to work through a non-adversarial process to reach the best result for yourselves and your children. Rather than battling over these issues in open court—and entrusting the result to a judge who will have limited information about your situation—you and your respective collaborative attorneys privately work together through a series of shorter meetings scheduled at your convenience.

Collaborative divorce attorneys encourage and equip you to work together to reach the best plan for your future, rather than engage in an exhausting and seemingly endless fight. This approach addresses all the same issues as those discussed during a traditional divorce, including:

  • Child custody and visitation rights
  • Child support
  • Equitable distribution
  • Sale or possession of the marital home
  • Post-separation support and alimony

Instead of “taking positions” and “drawing lines in the sand,” parties and their collaborative attorneys learn to engage in constructive and respectful dialogue about their and their children’s best interests.

For couples who want to keep things civil as they divorce—and model respect and cooperation for their children despite the painful transition—collaborative divorce might be a better alternative to litigation. Our attorneys are trained in collaborative practice and have been privileged to help separating couples and estranged parents achieve lasting and amicable settlements.

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Benefits of Collaborative separation and Divorce

Collaborative divorce is designed to reduce the stress and anxiety associated with separation and divorce, and to empower you and your spouse (or former life partner) to maintain greater control so that you can work towards a resolution more appropriate for your specific situation.

Less Emotional Turmoil

The process of dealing with your former spouse in a collaborative manner helps both of you develop and hone skills that will help you, down the road, as you begin co-parenting and setting the tone for how you will make decisions regarding your children in the future.

Time and Money Savings

When you work together, attorneys’ fees for each side are typically much lower because of the reduced time factor and the fact that collaborative attorneys commit from the outset to set aside the costly tactics and maneuvers of litigation. Where needed, a neutral expert—such as a certified divorce family planner, a divorce coach, or a parenting coordinator—can be jointly hired to provide guidance for decision-making, instead of each party engaging a “hired gun” expert to battle it out. This can be incredibly helpful when there is a business interest to be valued or any kind of complex issue regarding characterization of assets as martial or separate.


Since the agreement is worked out in private, your personal information is held in confidence with no more public record than necessary to obtain the final judgment of divorce and, in some instances, an order to effectuate an agreed upon division of retirement accounts.

Is collaborative divorce best for my family?

Collaborative separation and divorce may not be for everyone. For collaborative divorce to succeed, an atmosphere of trust must be created. This is much more challenging where there in cases involving domestic violence, emotional abuse, substance abuse, or mental health issues. If one party is unwilling or unable to “buy in” to the process, and commit to free sharing of all pertinent information and commitment necessary for cooperation, then litigation may end up being necessary.

If the collaborative process doesn’t work for your particular situation, you can always choose a more traditional litigation process. The important thing is to make sure that you are thoroughly advised of the full range of available dispute resolution options so that you can choose the best fit for your family.

what if we need to separate, but we’re not sure we want to divorce?

We are frequently contacted by couples who have realized that they need to take some time apart—for one or both partners to heal from a betrayal, battle an addiction, pursue counseling for mental health issues, or otherwise get the emotional support and care they need. They still have some hope that the marriage may survive, and don’t want to make any permanent decisions. But they need some help figuring out a workable plan for how they are going to handle finances and time with the children during the time they are separated.

We enjoy helping parties set up ground rules for a “redemptive separation." And because collaboratively trained lawyers make use of valuable insights and skills from the world of psychology and mental health counseling, collaborative family law is one of the most suitable processes for couples in this situation to use.



Court work is time consuming for lawyers and costly for clients. Most parents would agree that their time, money, and emotional energy would be better spent on the child. The court system is made for picking winners and losers, but when a child is caught in the middle of an ugly fight, who wins?


Parents can avoid litigation by improving communication with the other parent, being honest with themselves, and remembering the toll to children of open family tensions. A client may be prepared for an epic custody battle, but by fairly examining parents’ concerns and identifying common interests, we help prepare fertile ground for renewed trust and cooperation, without court involvement.


It can be difficult to know when a custody dispute is at the tipping point. When it appears litigation is inevitable, we insist on fighting fair, treating the other party with civility, avoiding legal gamesmanship, sticking to the genuine issues affecting the child, and seeking resolution at each stage. Having seen firsthand the havoc that conflict wreaks in children’s lives, we see no other way.


Hiring an attorney doesn’t have to wait until tensions erupt. The toughest stories from clients often involve decisions made or actions taken, without solid legal advice, before seeking help. Early engagement with a skilled legal advisor can help you carefully decide and plan for what lies ahead.

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Learn more about collaborative Divorce

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Interview: Saving Couples Money, Time, and Stress
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Chris Osborn
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Collaborative Family Law
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