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The Collaborative Approach Might Be A Good Option In Your Oregon Divorce

A creative, positive divorce process is available as an alternative to traditional divorce.

There is an innovative way to get divorced that does not involve airing your dirty laundry for all to see in court or engaging in a public courtroom fight over private family matters. In reaction to the negativity of traditional divorce litigation, divorce using collaboration and cooperation is now possible.

Stuart Webb, a Minnesota family lawyer, was weary of the combative way his clients’ divorces were playing out in courtrooms. He created a new procedure for divorcing that is now allowed by family courts in many states and countries, including Oregon.

Webb’s collaborative model is based on a belief that a divorcing couple can rise above the emotional challenge of divorce. The parties agree to act with respect, confidentiality and trust for purposes of negotiating a marital settlement agreement out of court in a series of four-way meetings involving both parties and their divorce attorneys.

One benefit of collaboration is that when children are involved, they may not be exposed to the same level of adversarial behavior between their parents, which can benefit everyone going forward, especially when there will be involvement of both parents or the children are young and will need to be co-parented for a long time.

The negotiation can proceed at the parties’ own pace and according to their schedule.

With the procedure happening entirely out of court, except for having a judge approve the agreement as part of the divorce judgment, the family is free to discuss personal, sensitive matters in an atmosphere of privacy and confidentiality.

If necessary, they may hire neutral professionals to participate in and contribute expertise to the negotiations such as financial planners, accountants, real estate and other kinds of appraisers, child or parent specialists, divorce coaches who assist with working through the emotions that come up in negotiation, and others as needed.

Attorneys who represent people in collaboration must have gone through special training to help their clients negotiate in a nonconfrontational way. Another key principle to this approach is that the parties agree that if collaboration fails, they will hire new divorce lawyers to represent them in the traditional process or another alternative process like mediation.

Still, according to the Oregon Association of Collaborative Professionals, collaborative divorce has a “high success rate.”

Collaboration can be cheaper than traditional negotiation or litigation, but not always. If sufficient progress cannot be made in each meeting, the costs of paying two lawyers plus retained neutral experts can rise quickly, so the commitment to making progress must be firm.

If respectful negotiation is not possible because the relationship is too fractured, or if one party has a history of dishonesty, the process may not allow the other party to be sure that what is presented at the table is the whole truth. If one spouse has a history of controlling behavior, mental health problems, substance abuse, or emotional or physical abuse, collaboration is probably not a good choice.

If you are an Oregonian facing divorce and would like to learn whether collaboration may be a viable alternative for your situation, speak with a divorce attorney who has gone through collaborative training.

The lawyers of Aaby Family Law, P.C., in Beaverton, represent clients throughout the Portland metro area in collaboration and traditional divorce as well as in other family law matters.

Keywords: divorce, Oregon, collaborative, agreement, four-way meeting, attorney, court, neutral, negotiation

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