Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative DivorceMost people who have gone through a divorce will tell you that the experience was emotionally painful and financially costly. Those people are also likely to tell you that the divorce lawyers contributed to these problems by heightening conflict and escalating arguments over the placement of the children, payment of support and division of the property, all the while charging increasing fees. Divorce law is applied to a family in crisis. Unfortunately, the legal process seeks to resolve that crisis in a positional  adversarial system that often intensifies the conflict. Divorce lawyers, who perceive their role as winning for their client, usually defined as gaining the most time with the children and the most money, advocate only the positions of their own clients. The lawyers often engage in contentious, last minute negotiations. When such negotiations fail, the parties may put their disputes before a judge, a stranger to themselves and their children, for decisions. Any veteran family lawyer or mental health professional can tell you that trials in divorce rarely solve issues and often perpetuate problems.


What can be done to ease the burden of such a divorce? One option available by Milwaukee family law attorneys at Hansen & Hildebrand, S.C. for divorcing couples in Wisconsin is a process called “Collaborative Divorce.” In a Collaborative Divorce, the couple agrees that they will work together to reach a settlement of the custody, placement and financial issues in their divorce in a way that meets the needs of all family members, including the children. The parties and the lawyers each agree in writing that they will not go to court to settle their issues. In the event the parties do not succeed in settling their differences privately, the lawyers must both withdraw. This creates an incentive for everyone to reach agreements. The Collaborative Family lawyers, like in-house counsel, act as legal advisors and problem solvers rather than as positional advocates. Experiences in many places show that divorces resolved collaboratively are less financially and emotionally painful, and prevent post-judgment returns to court when new issues arise between the parties.
Generally, in a Collaborative Process, the parties meet with their collaborative divorce lawyers in a series of four­-way settlement conferences. Each party has the advice of a divorce lawyer who is specially trained in the practice of Collaborative Law as well as experienced in the practice of family law. The parties may agree to use the services of other professionals, including mental health professionals such as child specialists, coaches and financial advisors. These professionals are jointly chosen to provide input and assure informed decision-making rather than taking sides.


More information about Collaborative Divorce is available by contacting any one of our collaboratively trained and experienced lawyers. To view an informative video about collaborative divorce featuring Susan Hansen, go to Collaborative Divorce vs Traditional Approach. The video contains a wealth of valuable information about collaborative divorce. The video was produced by the Collaborative Family Law Council of Wisconsin, Inc., a professional organization of divorce professionals including lawyers, mental health professionals and financial specialists.


To speak to a Milwaukee family law attorney who has experience in Collaborative Divorce at our firm, click here.


“We are so happy you help our parents’ divorce in a way that they are still friends. We didn’t want the kind of divorce our friend’s family went through where everyone hate each other. Thank you for helping all of us.”
Teenage children whose parents divorce through a Collaborative Team