Where to Begin?
After learning about the Collaborative Process, people often wonder how to get started.
Here are the steps that you can take to begin:
Step 1: Consult a Collaborative professional
Our website offers a convenient resource where you can easily Find a Collaborative Professional. The profiles provide details about each professional’s training and experience, and many also introduce you to a professional’s philosophy and practice style.
Though some people choose to begin by contacting and setting up an initial consultation with a Collaboratively trained attorney, you can use our convenient resource to initiate a consultation with any of our professionals. This will give you the opportunity to learn more about the Collaborative Process and how it differs from other process options, and to ask questions to determine if it’s right for you.
Alternatively, you can gather general information about the divorce process and options, including the Collaborative Process, by attending Third Thursdays, a free divorce workshop.
If you worry you cannot afford the Collaborative Process, contact the Collaborative Project of DC, to find out if you qualify for reduced-fee or free help to resolve your family disputes without going to court using the Collaborative Process.
Step 2: Introduce the idea of using the Collaborative Process to your partner
If you are interested in pursuing the Collaborative Process, you will need to get the buy-in of your partner. It’s important that both of you come to an agreement about which process will most effectively meet the needs of your family. If your relationship with your partner is cordial, you can give him or her information about the Collaborative Process as well as the other available process options, including the pros and cons of each. If your partner is interested in the Collaborative Process, you can direct him or her to our website to assist in identifying a Collaboratively-trained professional. If your relationship with your partner is not particularly cordial, the attorney or other professional with whom you meet will be able to help you identify ways you and your partner can come to an agreement on a process choice.
Step 3: Create a Collaborative Team
One of the unique features of the Collaborative Process is the use of the Collaborative Team.
Once you and your partner have agreed to utilize the Collaborative Process, the attorneys will help guide you through the selection of your Collaborative Team. The team approach provides you and your partner the resources and skill-sets to address the legal, emotional and financial considerations that impact you during the Collaborative Process. The team helps you navigate the process, keeping the needs of the entire family in mind. The Collaborative professionals provide education and guidance, work to promote as healthy a transition as possible for your family post-divorce, and help facilitate the creation of a durable agreement.
Step 4: Schedule the first joint meeting
Most of the work in the Collaborative Process takes place in face-to-face meetings where both parties, their attorneys and/or other team members may be present, depending upon the issues to be discussed. The first joint meeting is intended to set the stage for the case, to ensure that each party fully understands the process, and to create a foundation that will facilitate a successful outcome. The Collaborative Process is highly structured and designed to provide a safe environment for you and your partner to gather information, generate options, and negotiate a settlement in an efficient and respectful manner. Your attorneys, in conjunction with other team members, will schedule the joint meeting to accommodate everyone’s schedules.