First Steps

Review the different divorce processes

Once one or both members of a marital couple have decided to get a divorce, the next question is “Which process should we use?”

Some prefer to explore individually before speaking with one’s spouse. Others prefer to explore together.

Some browse websites and read articles and books.

For mediation and Collaborative Divorce, both spouses must agree on this process. Conversely, if one spouse insists on litigation, both spouses are forced to litigate.

Get a consultation

The best way to find out more about Collaborative Divorce is to speak to one of our members. Feel free to consult with an attorney, child specialist (if you have children), facilitator or financial specialist—any of these can share what Collaborative Divorce can do for you and your family.

You can attend a consultation alone or with your spouse. Just keep in mind that both clients must eventually agree in order to start a Collaborative Divorce process.

Neutrals (facilitators, financial specialists and child specialists) have no restrictions in providing consultations to a couple. Attorneys can meet briefly with a couple to speak about the process, but legal advice can only be provided to a single client.

Questions to ask yourself

What process appeals most to my values?

Do we want to remain friendly for the sake of our children?

Do we need a process that can help manage conflict?

Do we have a complex case—in terms of legal issues, finances, parenting—that needs some additional expertise?

Be careful of bias

Many people are not well-informed about Collaborative Divorce, including some attorneys. The best person to seek information from is a Collaborative Divorce professional or one who has gone through the process.

Sometimes friends or family members express their care via anger at the other spouse. They may recommend litigation, thinking it offers more protection and control. In reality, litigation increases conflict and decreasescontrol over the outcome.

Some believe court is the only option with a challenging spouse, but Collaborative Divorce actually has more tools to manage difficult dynamics.

Identify a preference and talk with your spouse

After an initial review of the options that most appeal to you, try to whittle it down to one.

If your first steps were alone, it’s time to speak with your spouse and agree on a path together.

A professional can offer some talking points for you to bring up with your spouse. Alternatively, you can consult a professional together.

If your spouse has a preference different from your own, you might agree to attend a consultation together for each approach.

Choose a professional and assemble the team

If and when you are ready to begin the Collaborative Divorce process, choose a collaborative professional, either a neutral specialist or an attorney, as a first point of contact.

If starting with a neutral, this person can guide you in selecting a team.

If starting with a lawyer, each client needs to have an attorney, then the two attorneys can help you make decisions about a team.