First proposed as an innovative solution to the usual "War of the Roses" divorce battles, lawyer Stu Web first proposed the collaborative approach to more amicable, family-friendly divorce proceedings in the 1990's. A decade or more later, collaborative divorce is a solution becoming more and more popular with couples seeking an alternative to very public, and often humiliating, court cases.
As the name implies, collaborative divorce proceedings naturally became an outgrowth of the skills and talents of any good divorce lawyer, and the roles they often play as legal expert, financial planner, family counselor and friend.
By signing a participation agreement with a specialized collaborative law firm - agreeing to the terms of open and honest communication - couples are given access to not only collaborative law attorneys but other experts in the field of finance, family counseling and child pyschology.
The agreement that couples sign is unique, in that it demands total cooperation from both sides on pain of breaking the contract, and canceling all negoations.
In turn, couples are protected by a proviso forbidding collaborative lawyers from representativing either party in court should traditional divorce proceedings become necessary. In this way, collaborative law attorneys are incented to work harder to keep the proceedings going forward.
Of course, effective collaboration would likely be a waste of time for childless couples hell bent on a fight over property, or large sums of money. However, for couples who feel the emotional pain is just not worth it, or who want to protect kids from the psychological damage or typically prolonged custody battles, collaboration is often the best resolution for all involved.
More about collaborative law around the Web:
International Academy of Collaborative Professionals - What is collaboative practice? - with related FAQ, glossary of terms and searchable database of collaborative lawyers and mediators.