History of Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce is fairly new to the world, it came about when lawyers finally figured out that divorce is not a legal issue-it a personal relationship issue that has legal attachments. It was 1990 in the city of Minneapolis Minnesota that the lawyer Stuart Webb founded collaborative divorce. After fifteen years of practicing divorce law, he decided to do something about all the road blocks and frustrations he kept running into by settling divorce issues in court.

He said that he would no longer go to court for the clients of his who were to be divorced. He said that he would help them settle and negotiate their problems outside the courtroom only – where the couple could get together and work out their problems – and that if they decided to go to court over the matter, he would withdraw his aid and hand over the case to a lawyer who had a more litigious temperament. For those of us who do not use “litigious” in every day speech – I mean, for those of us who are not lawyers, this word means arguable or debatable. Hostile might also be used…

Other lawyers in Minneapolis found the idea quite interesting.  A group of them decided to follow Mr. Webb’s lead.  They made this stroke of genius official by preparing a contract which both lawyers and both spouses would sign, committing the four parties to negotiate carefully and in good faith, and requiring the lawyers to withdraw from the case if it went to court.

In other states, divorce lawyers were facing the same problems-and as the word spread about family collaborative law, more of them took a grasp on it. North America at that time began to explore what appeared to be a better way of resolving the issues of family breakdown.

Medicine Hat, Alberta was one of the earliest cities to tale advantage of the idea of collaborative divorce. They liked the plan so much that family cases in courts were reduced by 85%. Many others gave more thought to this practice of collaborative law after it was written about in magazines and newspapers such as “the Lawyer’s Weekly”, “Maclean’s”, “The Toronto Star” and “The Globe and Mail.”

Today, those who practice collaborative law are finding out that it is less expensive than the cost it takes to prepare a regular case in the courtroom. It is becoming more widely known and practiced by lawyers everywhere throughout the United States and Canada.

Experts that have predicted that over the next decades collaborative divorce will become much more of a mainstream dispute resolution option in divorce law.

Collaborative divorce is not the same as divorce mediation.  The terms cannot and should not be used interchangeably.  In mediation, there is a neutral party, the mediator.  In collaborative divorce the parties, though working collaboratively to achieve a negotiated settlement, are not neutral.  Each lawyer provides his or her client with independent legal advice regarding any proposed agreements.