What Is Collaborative Divorce?

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

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It’s no secret that we are big fans of Collaborative Divorce here at Transitions Legal, and this blog will tell you why.

First and foremost, Collaborative Divorce is the most humane approach to the legal process of ending a marriage. It’s in the definition! Professionals trained in Collaborative Practice come together to facilitate the dissolution of a marriage.

Collaborative Practice is a way of resolving disputes without ending up in a courtroom and asking a judge to decide how you’ll move forward. This approach originated in the Midwestern United States in the mid-20th century and the movement, and it popularity are growing every day.

Both people must agree to the Collaborative approach to divorce. And then, once they do, each spouse hires a collaboratively-trained lawyer to represent them.

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But there’s more. Joining the lawyers and the clients on the Collaborative Divorce team are mental health professionals, financial professionals, business and tax experts, and sometimes even advocates for the children. Whichever professionals will be most helpful in the case.

All participants in the Collaborative process sign a contract agreeing to this approach. Today, there are about 22,000 lawyers trained in Collaborative Law worldwide, with more than 50,000 cases already completed according to this method.

Even judges are on board with Collaborative Divorce, according to the American Bar Association. That’s because the process keeps courts from being cluttered with needless litigation.

Other benefits of Collaborative Divorce include…

  • A high level of privacy and confidentiality
  • More client control over the process
  • An opportunity to be creative and innovative with settlement details
  • A focus on building positive, fruitful post-divorce relationships
  • Prioritizes the children
  • A variety of productive perspectives and guidance

Learn more about Collaborative Divorce the Transitions Legal way here.

Understanding the Increasing Rates of Divorce after Age 50

Gray Divorce, the phenomenon of ending a marriage after age 50, is on the rise and has been for some years now. It’s also one of the specialties of our law firm.

But what’s behind this trend of splitting at midlife or later?

Gray Divorce is the trend of couples older than age 50 splitting up

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A year ago, the American Bar Association wrote about how “70s are the new 50s,” distinguishing the differences between Gray Divorce and a split involving younger couples.

The article offers these statistics: 25 percent of all divorces today involve people age 50 or older, with those featuring couples 65 and up counting for one in ten divorces. What, exactly, is going on?

First, it’s understandable if, after a few decades together, a couple has grown apart or no longer connects in the way they did when they were younger. We change throughout our lives and sometimes, we change so much that we are no longer compatible with our spouses.

No harm, no foul, right?

By age 50, many couples have been together for several decades or longer, and it’s often the time when children are leaving for college and living adult lives of their own – pitting a couple in close proximity to focus only on each other. It’s easy to fall into a rut when you’re chasing after your children and only realize there’s a rift in the relationship once those children are gone.

after age 50, Divorce isn't necessarily a failure - it's just that the marriage has run its course

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Another reason for the spike in Gray Divorce is that people are living longer, and if you’re looking down the road to another 20, 30, 40 years of life, and you haven’t created the partnership you want or need with your spouse, you might want to go it alone or see what else is out there.

Whatever the reason, divorce at any age has its issues, and the older couples get, and the more assets and resources they amass, the more complicated a divorce might be. Especially if they’ve already retired!

Regardless of the situation, though, the best way to proceed with a marital breakup is to articulate your individual values, identify what’s important to you today and for the future, and let this information guide your split. You won’t get everything you want – no one does – but it will be easier to compromise and to divorce with dignity when you know what matters most.

DEI & Disparity in Family Law

I was thrilled to join the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) and even more eager to become part of an executive committee on diversity and inclusion – mostly because representation in family law has a long way to go.

A 2018 study by the American Bar Association revealed that there is still widespread gender and racial bias in hiring, promoting, assigning and compensating attorneys in America. In fact, 58 percent of women attorneys of color and half of white women lawyers said they have been mistaken for administrative staff or janitors. Only seven percent of white male lawyers said the same.

If the legal profession is disproportionately populated by white men, then how can clients in need of legal support who find themselves in other racial or gender camps find adequate representation? How can their cases be adequately understood by those who take them on?

the ABA has a bias interrupters toolkit to achieve diversity and inclusion

The American Bar Association offers a Bias Interrupters toolkit

The ABA study – titled You Can’t Change What You Can’t See – is an important step in identifying trends so that we can wake up our colleagues and ourselves and improve this profession for a diverse future. In the study, women of color reported the highest level of bias in almost every workplace process.

Whether it’s facing higher (double) standards than their white, male colleagues, having to work harder and longer for the same compensation and recognition, or being passed over for promotions, this profession is truly lagging behind in recognizing equity issues and acting on them.

In response to the findings, the ABA included a Bias Interrupters Toolkit in the survey report to help firms get up to speed.

While I am a woman and face some of these inequities, I understand that my colleagues of color face even more. All of us would benefit from learning about the experiences of our colleagues and also gaining training to improve workplaces, promote equity and fairness, and gain awareness of implicit biases that could impede fair representation for our clients.

diversity and inclusion is a priority at the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

Diversity and inclusion is a priority at the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

One way to learn more would be to listen to a podcast interview with Kiilu Davis on racism and discrimination in family law. Mr. Davis is an Arizona family law attorney who is a former chair of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers’ Diversity Committee. Listen to the episode here.

Mr. Davis shares this important assertion from the interview:

“There’s a lack of understanding about cultural differences and what makes us different – which is really a pitfall. As a family law judge, you might have a crucifix on your bench. Might that make some people uncomfortable?”

“We have built-in cultural and implicit biases, and it’s hard to set aside biases that you may not even know that you have. We must continue to educate individuals about these biases.”

Diversity & Equity in Family Law

Diversity & Equity in Family Law

Diversity & Equity in Family Law

Growing up in a landscape defined by systemic racism deeply embedded into American culture, I am particularly sensitive to issues of access and inclusion. And yet, I am too aware that we can have the best of intentions and still not be as inclusive as we’d like.

That’s why I joined the Diversity and Inclusion committee of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP). I wanted to embed into my work as a Collaborative Divorce lawyer a deep and constant alert to whether we are incorporating diversity at every level and fighting racism.

As an organization, IACP is determined to be as inclusive as possible. At the same time, we cannot control who decides to join. There is a deeper issue at play, and one which we may not have nearly as much impact – how many minority audiences choose to become attorneys.


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I’ve been aware for some time, and truly bothered by it, that the legal profession in America is heavily white. To be frank, according to the American Bar Association, only 5 percent of attorneys in America are African American. That is inexcusable!

The IACP is an international organization, which expands our view of inclusion and diversity beyond the borders of the United States. And there are so many aspects to diversity. It’s not just about race.

It’s also about gender, sexuality, socioeconomic factors, age and more. We want true inclusion, across defining characteristics to be a truly representative profession and industry.

travel work

When the Equity and Inclusion committee formed three years ago, it was an area that I saw having a real need for diversity. We were all white, middle to upper class attorneys sitting around a pretty homogeneous table. How could we combat racism?

Our clientele was pretty white, too. How were we going to educate people? What strategies would we use to reach out to other communities and bring people in?

I joined this crusade because I saw it as an opportunity to get in at the base line level and really have an impact.

These days, a lot of DEI work feels like it’s the “in” thing to do. When people are marching on cities in the name of Black Lives Matter, it would be natural to take a closer look at areas that lack diversity.

But it’s not that for me. It’s not a trend or a bandwagon to jump on. This is part of who I am.

I believe in all people, and I believe all Americans should have access and entry to the industries and communities they desire.

When I was in elementary school in the 1960s and 1970s, my school principal was African American. I didn’t realize how groundbreaking that was at the time, for I was just a small girl, but looking back I am awestruck by the foresight that my school had in hiring a Black man to lead our school.

Both details – that he was African American and that he was male – are significant. So many educators were women and of course most were white.

Seeing a man of color in a powerful position, guiding children from the youngest, most impressionable ages through to adolescence, leaves an indelible mark on what matters and who should lead.

From my young vantage point, I didn’t see any of this, of course. I just saw a kind man who was nice to me and had a smile for every child in the building. I had no idea what a pioneer he was or that it was a landmark role for my community.

travel work

As I’ve become more educated on systemic racism, I can grow sad about the struggles we still see happening for black and brown people in America. Why does this continue to be? 


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I know all the intellectual and emotional reasons sociologists will cite, but deep down in my soul, I cannot understand it.

I sometimes feel like as an individual, I am so unable to make an impact or truly make lasting, tangible change in this area, at a high level. I’ll admit, sometimes I feel kind of helpless.

Of course, I could just resign myself to my little homogeneous bubble and go on with life. But I won’t. I can’t. I must do what I can to make even the slightest difference, in my profession, in my community, in my life.

It’s not who I am to ignore what is happening around me. This country needs righting, and I’ll do my part to make it happen.

Read more Family Law posts