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Collaborative Law Process

Because collaborative divorce is such a recent development, many people are unaware of what is involved in the process. You may find it useful to think of collaborative divorce as a four-stage event. In the end, the ultimate goal of the process is to reach a settlement that meets the needs of all concerned.

The Four Stages of the Collaborative Process

Stage 1 − Taking the initial steps: Collaborative divorce uses a team approach designed to let you work with people who are specifically trained to handle certain issues. The initial phase of the collaborative process therefore involves:

  • Identifying the team, which includes each spouse’s collaborative attorney, a financial planner, a child specialist and one or two divorce coaches.
  • Arranging a meeting with the divorcing couple and their attorneys
  • Signing a collaborative law agreement, in which everyone pledges to resolve the divorce out of court. If a settlement cannot be reached, the lawyers must withdraw and you will have to find new attorneys to represent you.

Stage 2 − Gathering information: The goal here is for everyone involved to understand the emotional, financial and behavioral features that make your family unique. It involves:

  • Understanding the marital estate, including assets, debts, income and the needs of your children, if you have any
  • Learning to listen − to each other and to the experts
  • Open discussion about the needs and desires of each party

Step 3 − Creating options: The collaborative process is about respecting and understanding the interests of both yourself and your spouse. With the help of divorce coaches and the rest of the team, you are empowered to:

  • Discuss possible resolutions to child custody, property division and all other issues
  • Evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of each resolution in a safe, respectful environment

Step 4 − Reaching a Solution: Without going to court, and without the stress and emotional harm caused by a long battle, it is often possible to reach a satisfying resolution more quickly and much more peaceably. This final stage is about:

  • Detailing a settlement that meets as many of the desires of each person as possible
  • Finalizing the agreement

At Ostertag O’Leary Barrett & Faulkner, we believe in the collaborative process and we believe it can work for the vast majority of couples. By fostering cooperation instead of adversity, we have found that collaborative divorce allows clients and children to move forward in life more quickly and in a healthy manner.

Contact a Dutchess County Family Law Attorney

To learn more about why the collaborative process may be the right choice for your divorce, call Ostertag O’Leary Barrett & Faulkner at 845-486-4300. You may also contact our law firm online.


Ostertag O'Leary Barrett & Faulkner

301 Manchester Road, Suite 201
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
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Phone: 845-486-4300
Fax: 845-486-4080
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