Collaborative law, also called the collaborative process, collaborative practice or for divorcing couples, collaborative divorce, is a legal approach that law firms have used since the 1980s.
According to an article published by the American Bar Association (ABA), in 2007, the International Association of Collaborative Practice (IACP) conducted a survey of clients who participated in the collaborative process. It received responses from 98 clients. The responding demographic was a 50/50 division of males and females. The majority were between the ages of 40 and 59 years old, in their first marriage and had been married for 16 or more years. Prior to beginning the collaborative process, two thirds had participated with their spouse in some type of marriage counseling.
Approximately 90 percent of study participants reached a settlement through collaborative law and only 10 percent ended the process before settling all issues. These results were divided equally between males and females taking the survey.
The survey asked participants about their satisfaction with the outcome of issues involving relationships with children and spouses, co-parenting, skills for post-divorce functioning and the settlement itself. An estimated three quarters answered they were extremely or somewhat satisfied with the overall outcome and 13 percent were somewhat or extremely dissatisfied.
Not surprisingly, most of those satisfied by the collaborative process had reached settlements and most those dissatisfied had terminated the process. The area of highest satisfaction was with matters involving children, in particular with the relationship they had with their children after divorce. These participants were most satisfied with their children’s well-being, their co-parenting skills, their own emotional well-being and their ability to make financial decisions after divorce. The “somewhat satisfied” category related to divorce terms, property division, spousal support, child support and parenting plans. Professionals most frequently consulted during collaborative divorce were mental health practitioners and financial consultants.
When divorcing in Pennsylvania, discuss with your attorney whether collaborative law is viable. Every divorce faces unique issues. By working with an experienced divorce lawyer, you can take the approach that best suits your situation.