How a collaborative divorce works

Here are the steps a couple might take in a collaborative divorce:

• Each party chooses a collaboratively trained divorce attorney

• The attorneys contact each other to evaluate whether the divorce can be handled collaboratively.

• The parties meet and sign a contract that says they will not litigate. If they decide to go to court later, their attorneys are disqualified from representing them, and they begin the process over.

• Meetings are scheduled to exchange relevant information about finances and children.

• The parties choose a team that could include divorce coaches (mental-health professionals, a neutral financial adviser, a child advocate). They might or might not meet later with these team members.

• The attorneys draw up the divorce documents. The parties sign them, and the papers are filed with the court.

Source: Gretchen Walther, Albuquerque collaborative divorce attorney and spokeswoman for the American Bar Association and The Arizona Republic