Each party has his or her own attorney who provides legal advice and guidance in understanding and achieving a full settlement of all issues. The issues may include: living arrangements and decision-making related to the children; child and spousal support; and, identifying, valuing, and dividing assets and debts. Each attorney commits to work only in the collaborative divorce process. The collaborative divorce attorneys will not participate in any contested litigation.
Mental health professionals may serve in two different roles — as a coach or child specialist. The coach helps the entire team communicate effectively and works directly with the couple to support them as they transition from married couple to coparents. The child specialist may be included to bring each child’s perspective into the process.
The financial professional works on behalf of both spouses. They serve as the guide for all financial matters – gathering financial information, presenting the information in an understandable format, and help to ensure that everyone is fully informed. They can also assist in helping spouses understand the short and long-term ramifications of various settlement options, the tax ramifications, and the viability of final agreements.
Collaborative divorce grew out of the efforts of Stu Webb, a divorce attorney from Minnesota, in the 1990s. Stu believed that divorce and other family law matters could be resolved with the assistance of family law attorneys committed to working towards a constructive settlement rather than through battles in court. Since then, collaborative divorce has spread throughout the United States, Canada, and around the world.
In 2002, Stu Webb came to St. Louis and did a training on collaborative divorce with a few year attorneys. They were more than inspired, and the Collaborative Family Law Association (CFLA) was started in 2015.