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International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (Collaborative Divorce)


Arizona Collaborative Colleagues (Collaborative Divorce)


Mary Ann Hess describes the collaborative divorce process, her role in the process, and the importance of spouses being knowledgeable about the issues to be resolved (0:55)

Video: The Collaborative Process (0:41)

How Collaborative Divorce Differs from Traditional Divorce

Advantages of Collaborative Divorce

Is Collaborative Divorce for You?

The Results of Collaborative Divorce

Frequently Asked Questions


More Collaborative Divorce Videos Featuring
Mary Ann Hess

Does My Case Qualify?

The Value of Resolution



Collaborative Divorce

A civilized, efficient alternative to the adversarial process that is generally inherent in divorce, and that can inflict so much emotional damage on divorcing couples and their children.

Collaborative Divorce is a way for a divorcing couple in Arizona and other states to work as a team with trained professionals to resolve disputes respectfully, without going to court. Each party has the support, protection and guidance of his or her own lawyer. But the lawyers, instead of going to battle against each other, pledge to work together in crafting an outcome that is fair to all.

As a practical matter, both parties must have a reasonable commitment to resolving their issues via a collaborative process.

  • Questions about the collaborative process? See the FAQs at the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals

  • See Mary Ann Hess's Divorce with Respect blog

  • Affordable Fee Options: Mary Ann Hess helps you gain a measure of cost certainty through a variety of legal fee options.

While collaborative lawyers are always involved, the circumstances of the divorce may make it appropriate for other professionals child specialists, business and financial specialists or divorce coaches to be a part of the process. In these models you and your spouse have the option of starting your divorce with the professionals with whom you feel most comfortable and then choosing any other professionals you need as the process progresses. Therefore, you benefit throughout collaboration from the assistance and support of all of your chosen professionals.

How Collaborative Divorce Differs from Traditional Divorce

Collaborative Divorce is generally distinguished from traditional litigation by its core elements, which are set out in a contractual commitment among you and your chosen collaborative professionals to:

  • negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement without using court to decide any issues for the clients,

  • withdrawal of the professionals if either client goes to court,

  • engage in open communication and information sharing, and

  • create shared solutions that take into account the highest priorities of both clients.

 Advantages of Collaborative Divorce

  • Collaborative Divorce can often hold down legal costs. (The Boston Law Collaborative has found that the median cost of a collaborative divorce was 26% less than a divorce achieved via traditional settlement, and 75% less than divorces that end in court.)

  • You and your spouse keep control of the process, without going to court.

  • Children's needs are given priority.

  • You and your spouse commit to reaching agreement through a problem-solving approach.

  • An atmosphere of respect preserves self esteem.

  • Open communication allows both of you to express your needs for moving forward and gives you new tools for effective problem-solving in the future.

  • There is full disclosure of facts and information.

  • Face-to-face meetings in the presence of lawyers make negotiations direct and efficient and allow for mutually created resolutions.

  • The Collaborative process helps both of you plan for your own future and that of your children, and to begin new lives for all of you.

Is Collaborative Divorce for You?

Divorce is a highly personal matter, and no approach is right for everyone. Many couples, however, have found that Collaborative Divorce is a welcome alternative to the potentially destructive aspects of conventional divorce. To determine if Collaborative Divorce may be right for you, ask yourself if these values are important:

  • Maintaining an atmosphere of respect, even in the presence of disagreements.

  • If you have children, making their needs a high priority.

  • Listening objectively to your spouse's needs, fully expecting that your own needs will be given equal consideration.

  • Working creatively and cooperatively to solve issues.

  • Seeing beyond the frustration and pain of the present moment to plan for the future.

  • Behaving in an ethical manner toward your spouse.

  • Keeping control of the divorce process with you and your spouse, and not relegating it to the court system.

If you can affirm these basic principles, it is likely that Collaborative Divorce would be a viable option for you.

The Result of Collaborative Divorce

The end result of Collaborative Practice is a divorce agreement that has been achieved through mutual problem solving. You, along with your lawyers and other chosen collaborative professionals, take control of shaping the final agreement, rather than having a settlement imposed on you by the court.