Collaborating in an Amicable Divorce
This example case illustrates how the constructive aspect of Collaborative Divorce can lead to a more amicable divorce.

Mary and Arthur – Constructive
When a collaborative divorce has everything working in its favor, it can be an amazingly smooth process. This story truly demonstrates that.

First, Mary and Arthur both wanted the divorce. Mary came to that conclusion about six months before Arthur, but it took her that full six months from initial interview with her collaborative attorney to actually move forward. By the time the CL process began, both were on the same page. (This can often be a critical component that affects the pace and level of cooperation in a negotiation.)

Second, both clients were exceptionally well-organized and financially-savvy people. They readily assembled the necessary financial information, and Mary organized it into a series of spreadsheets. After negotiating a moderately complex parenting schedule, Arthur organized it into a computer-readable calendar that each of them could email or print out as needed.

Third, Mary and Arthur had similar values and goals. Both were experienced computer professionals with good incomes, and both were very devoted to their children. They respected each other as people and were both very confident in each other’s abilities as parents. Unlike many of our clients, Mary and Arthur were very successful at saving money, so their finances were in good shape. In short, they had the material and emotional resources needed to make the transition from marriage to divorce.

Finally, they communicated effectively, collaboratively, and in a focused way. The four-way meetings went smoothly because Mary and Arthur were comfortable sticking with the agenda for each meeting. They kept their promises and completed their homework on time or ahead of schedule. Arthur moved out of the marital home, as agreed, and then cooperated with Mary when she refinanced the mortgage on that home. At no time in any of the five four-way meetings, or in the preparation for them, did either Mary or Arthur get involved in accusations or other incivilities; indeed, they were so completely focused on resolution, in spite of some inevitable differences of opinion regarding money or children, that their attorneys were simply astonished by their efficiency.

With all of this resourcefulness, cooperation, and mutual respect, one might wonder how their attorneys added value, if at all. Our view is that the CL process created a safe container in which Mary and Arthur could take the risk of trusting each other. They knew, from the start, that their two lawyers liked and respected each other but at the same time could and would maintain appropriate professional boundaries. They knew that they would have opportunities for separate consultation with counsel, but in reality, they did almost all of the work in four-way meetings.

The level of trust reached such a point that Mary and Arthur began sending emails to all four-participants in the process, and their attorneys consented to direct four-way communications via email. The feeling of safety that was created by the process came, in part, from adhering to practices that have become customary in CL: taking turns meeting at each attorney’s office and alternating in the preparation of a memo summarizing the discussions at each meeting. Mary and Arthur were given a separation agreement checklist, which helped to structure the negotiations. One attorney drafted the Separation Agreement; the other edited. The division of labor felt balanced, and Mary and Arthur felt they knew what to expect.

Mary and Arthur might have had a very amicable divorce even without CL – we will never know. However, it is clear that CL provided a supportive framework that kept the process on track. Their two young children will benefit from the wise decision these two parents made to collaborate.

This story was edited from an original article written by David Hoffman and Paula Noe. David Hoffman is an attorney, mediator, and arbitrator at Boston Law Collaborative, LLC. He is chair of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution. Paula H. Noe practices Collaborative Family Law in Brookline, Massachusetts. She is president-elect of the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council.







Client Stories in Illinois Collaborative Divorce Cases

“We chose the collaborative approach because we wanted a respectful process. We were active participants in the final settlement as opposed to having a judge decide the outcome.”

- Collaborative Law Client    


Sometimes just hearing how others have successfully used the Collaborative Divorce Process can be really helpful. We encourage you to take a look. Please keep in mind that the names have been changed for client privacy.


Client Stories: Story 1 – Resolving Child Custody Issues (Supportive)

Kathy and Tim had been married for nine years. Kathy worked part-time as a teacher’s aide earning about $20,000 per year. Tim worked in the computer industry earning about $120,000 per year. They had twin boys: aged 6. Tim worked long hours in the past and left most of the parenting to Kathy. But as the children grew older, Tim showed more interest in spending time with them… Click here to read complete story


Client Stories: Story 2 – Determining Spousal Financial Support (Considerate)

Kim, 62, and Paul, 61, were married for 40 years. They had three children – all grown and independent. After being married at 22 and 21 respectively, Paul maintained the primary income. Kim stopped working full-time and instead worked at various part-time office jobs while also being the primary caregiver of the children… Click here to read complete story


Client Stories: Story 3 – Dividing Marital Assets (Sensible)

Kevin and Jackie were married for 18 years, both in well-paying jobs, with two teen-aged children. Deciding on divorce, they had agreed to work out a resolution through Collaborative Process instead of going to Court. Custody of the teenagers was not an issue…Click here to read complete story


Client Stories: Story 4 – Collaborating in an Amicable Divorce (Constructive)

When a collaborative divorce has everything working in its favor, it can be an amazingly smooth process. This story truly demonstrates that… Click here to read complete story


Client Stories: Stories 5 – Negotiating a Quick Divorce Agreement (Mutual)

Collaborative or not, divorce negotiation ordinarily takes at least several months – more typically the better part of a year, and not infrequently, more than a year. In this particular scenario, our client asked us, “Is it possible to do this in 10 days?”…Click here to read complete story

“We chose the collaborative approach because we wanted a respectful process. We were active participants in the final settlement as opposed to having a judge decide the outcome.”
Kevin and Jackie were married for 18 years, both in well-paying jobs, with two teen-aged children. Deciding on divorce, they had agreed to work out a resolution through Collaborative Process instead of going to Court. Custody of the teenagers was not an issue…

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software