Collaborative Divorce, like Mediation or Arbitration, falls under the umbrella term “Alternative Dispute Resolution” or “ADR”. It serves as an alternative to going to trial and having a judge make a decision for you. Collaborative Divorce is unique to resolving disputes arising in domestic or family law cases, whereas mediation or arbitration is a type of alternative dispute resolutions that apply to other civil cases.
The spouses will sign a participation agreement at the beginning of the collaborative divorce process, which will outline specific requirements, such that the attorneys hired are hired for the purpose of assisting the spouses with reaching a fair settlement (out of court) agreement, the attorneys will not go to court if the matter goes to trial, the spouses will each take reasonable and fair positions during negotiations, discovery will be informal and cooperatives, and the spouses will negotiate in good faith.
Collaborative Divorce involves both spouses retaining their own attorney, there are no circumstances under the law in Michigan in which divorcing spouses can ever utilize the same attorney to represent both of them. The benefit of Collaborative Divorce is that it may limit hostilities and costs, and allow spouses to work together to create an agreement each can live with long term. However, the consequence of collaborative divorce is that if settlement talks fail, the parties must start over from the very beginning with new attorneys, formal discovery, and trial.