Frequently Asked Questions

What is Collaborative Divorce? 
Collaborative Divorce is a new way for couples to go through the divorce process in a more amicable manner, without going to court. Once a couple establishes that Collaborative Divorce is right for them, a team is assembled including an attorney for each spouse, financial advisors, divorce coaches, and other professionals as needed.


Who is the Bucks County Collaborative Law Group?

The Bucks County Collaborative Law Group (BCCLG) is a group of attorneys, financial advisors, family therapists, divorce coaches, and related professionals who specialize in working with divorcing couples to assure a mutually satisfying conclusion during the divorce process. We are members of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP), an organization committed to fostering professional excellence in conflict resolution through Collaborative Practice. There are more than 10,000 professionals trained in Collaborative Practice in the United States and over 200 Collaborative Practice groups around the world. To learn more about IACP, please visit their web site: www.collaborativepractice.com.


Is Collaborative Divorce right for me?

Collaborative Divorce is based on mutual respect, positive solutions in resolving conflict, and a desire to stay out of a court situation. If you and your spouse choose open dialogue and a willingness to work together toward a civil conclusion to the marriage, then Collaborative Divorce is a good choice. In addition, if children are involved, Collaborative Divorce is a much less harmful process than traditional litigation involving court.

Collaborative Divorce is not right for everyone. In a situation involving domestic abuse for example, Collaborative Divorce would not necessarily be recommended. Every situation is unique and our team of caring professionals can help you decide what route is best for your specific situation.


What is the difference between Collaborative Divorce and mediation?

Though there are similarities such as open dialogue, the biggest difference between Collaborative Divorce and mediation is that a mediator cannot give legal advice and must stay neutral. Mediators help with negotiations towards a settlement, but the divorce process and documents must still go through attorneys for review of the agreement and the filing of legal documents before a final divorce decree can be granted. You have more support at the table with Collaborative Divorce. The team of attorneys, financial consultant and divorce coach are with you from the beginning, and involved in the entire process. Financial information is automatically exchanged and conducted in a more secure process than with mediation because the attorneys and financial consultant are overseeing documents. Mediation doesn't give you the same type of immediate support. A mediator can only help you reach an agreement; they can't oversee documents, give legal or financial advice or move assets after the agreement is complete.


What is the difference between Collaborative Divorce and litigated divorce?

The main difference between Collaborative Divorce and conventional divorce is the signed agreement by each spouse and their attorney pledging to stay out of court. With litigated divorce, attorneys represent their client in court and a judge decides the case. With Collaborative Divorce, you and your spouse are in control of the process based on a desire to come to a settlement and end the marriage in a dignified and mutually respectful manner.


What is the attorney's role in Collaborative Divorce?

With Collaborative Divorce, you and your spouse each have your own attorney who is responsible for supporting and guiding you through legal issues, settlement options, and divorce agreements. Their job is to work collaboratively with each other and both spouses to reach an agreement. The attorney will assist you in voicing your needs and concerns effectively. Finally, if the Collaborative Divorce process ends, your collaborative attorney must withdraw from the case.


What is the financial specialist's role in Collaborative Divorce?

The financial advisor (sometimes called a financial neutral) plays a neutral role, working with both parties to come to a mutually agreeable settlement. They are there to help educate you and your spouse about financial choices and consequences of various settlement options, gather information, manage financial expectations, discuss taxes, cash flow, budgets, financial planning and consult with the attorneys. The financial neutral also helps both spouses prepare for life after the divorce.


What is the role of the divorce coach?

Divorce is difficult and often fraught with tension. The divorce coach meets with both spouses before the first team meeting, helping to manage emotions, conflicts, and hostilities. They are there for every meeting and assist in keeping the process on track in a comfortable and supportive atmosphere. It is the divorce coach's role to help both parties and remain neutral, keeping interactions respectful rather than emotional. Many are trained therapists who can provide guidance for the future to avoid further issues between the parties.


What is the role of the child specialist?

Divorce is a stressful time for all, and children are often caught in the middle. In Collaborative Divorce, the Child Specialist is a licensed mental health professional trained and experienced in working with parents and children who are going through a divorce and/or other child custody and parenting issues. The Child Specialist helps each spouse stay focused on the needs and emotions of any children involved.


Who are the other team members?

The primary team members in the Collaborative Divorce process are attorneys, financial advisors and divorce coaches. Other professionals can be called in on an as needed basis. These include family relations and child specialists, appraisers, mortgage brokers or vocational experts. Each skilled professional applies their expertise to the collaborative process on behalf of each spouse toward a positive outcome.


How do we get started with Collaborative Divorce?

We are happy to help you get started. When you contact one of our professionals, we will explain the process in detail, and you and your spouse will each choose an attorney who you will meet with in private to discuss your individual needs and concerns. After that, you and your spouse will meet in face-to-face sessions with your two attorneys, the financial consultants and divorce coach to reach a settlement without going to court.


What are the costs involved with Collaborative Divorce?

Though it's difficult to estimate a cost without knowing the details of each individual situation, Collaborative Divorce is typically a more cost effective process than conventional divorce. Each professional is paid separately; however, they work as a team, collaboratively saving on costs.

According to Lexis ONE, the research is clear. Comparing divorce costs, the median cost of mediation was $6,600, while the median cost of collaborative divorce was $19,723. The median cost of lawyer negotiated settlements was $26,830 while the median cost of full-scale litigation was $77,746.
Source: http://www.lexisone.com/balancing/articles/ap010008g.html

The process is in the hands of the spouses, so the sooner agreements are reached, the less the overall cost. Every situation is different and fees are discussed individually between each client and professional in the Collaborative team.


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