It’s over – but let’s be friends

Collaborative divorce lets exes-to-be work out details together.

A divorce reached through collaboration might sound odd for couples headed toward Splitsville. Same goes for their attorneys, who make serious dough when breakups are drawn-out and dirty.

Yet 25 bay area lawyers and a growing number of their clients have embraced "collaborative divorce," a process that restores the give-and-take lost somewhere after "I do."

"What’s left after the massacre?" Tampa marital law attorney Nancy Harris said of traditional divorce. "It feels better to win with this process."

Traditional divorces don’t always go to trial. Many go to mediation, where an arbitrator stays neutral while everyone else takes sides.

The collaborative concept puts participants on the same team. Spouses and attorneys come together with mental health and financial experts read: no judges for meetings. Before each meeting, they agree on an agenda focused on child support, asset division and alimony.

They go to the courthouse only when it’s time for a judge to sign off on the final settlement.