You and your spouse have decided to seek a divorce and have agreed to the collaborative divorce process. You have retained your collaborative divorce attorneys. Now you are being asked to sign a collaborative divorce participation agreement. What is the purpose of this agreement and what does the agreement contain?
The purpose of the collaborative divorce participation agreement is to ensure that the initial team (husband, wife, and their respective attorneys) understand the principles of the collaborative process. It also identifies that the collaborative team may expand to include a financial neutral, or other necessary professionals.
The collaborative divorce participation agreement contains the following provisions:
- It identifies the goals of the team.
- It contains an agreement that the parties will not seek court intervention.
- It lists cautions to the participants that the process cannot eliminate disharmony, distrust, and differences that may have existed in the past, but that the parties will commit to create an atmosphere of harmony, trust, and cooperation moving forward.
- It states that the parties agree to negotiate in good faith.
- It states that the parties agree to make a full and fair disclosure of all assets, income, debts, and other relevant information necessary to reach settlement.
- It states that the parties will maintain a high standard of integrity, not take advantage of each other, and will not mislead each other.
- It preserves the parties’ financial status quo while the parties are involved with the collaborative divorce process.
- It states that the parties agree the professionals are entitled to be paid, and that the parties have individual financial responsibilities to their respective attorneys.
- It states that if experts and consultants are necessary, the team will agree to retain them jointly.
- It discusses confidentiality in that the team will treat all information provided during the collaborative process as confidential.
- It discuses the participants rights and obligations pending settlement.
- It discusses termination of the collaborative process after settlement and termination of the collaborative process without settlement.
- It states that both attorneys are disqualified from representing either party in any adversarial or contested court proceeding, that all team members are disqualified as witnesses, and that their work product will be inadmissible as evidence in any court proceeding.
Before signing the collaborative divorce participation agreement, the team will have a discussion and fully review the provisions to ensure the parties have a complete understanding of the agreement.
Collaborative Divorce – The Litigation Alternative
Divorce is a stressful and difficult process. That’s why more couples are turning to the collaborative divorce process. A highly trained team of professionals work together with you to develop a fair, open and child centered resolution. If you want to avoid going to court, reach your own agreement, and promote positive co-parenting post-divorce, the collaborative divorce process may be an alternative for you.
Laurie K. Schmitt, founder of Schmitt Law, PLLC, is an Attorney, Mediator, and Collaborative Divorce lawyer. When possible, she guides her clients through amicable divorce settlements so they can move forward with their life. Contact Laurie online or by calling (616) 310-4975 to schedule a consultation to discuss the collaborative divorce process and how it can benefit you.