Step 1 – Both Parties Decide to Retain Collaborative Divorce Lawyers
Collaborative divorce law is different than the traditional adversarial approach, and requires a different set of skills. In order to proceed with collaborative divorce, both parties must choose the collaborative process and select collaboratively trained divorce attorneys. You can consult the collaborative practice group in your local area or the International Academy of Collaborative Lawyers for a list of active collaborative attorneys near you.
Step 2 – Initial Group Meeting
Once initial contact is made between the collaborative attorneys, an initial group meeting is scheduled with both parties and their attorneys. At the initial meeting, the parties will review and sign the Collaborative Participation Agreement, determine the goals and interests of the couple, address any immediate concerns, and develop an action plan for the participants. The action plan is a “to do” list of necessary steps to keep the participants on track and the collaborative process moving towards a mutually acceptable resolution. At the initial meeting, the parties may also discuss when initial divorce filings should be submitted to the court, who will be responsible for filing the petition, and how service of the petition will be accepted.
Step 3 – Subsequent Group Meetings
Depending on the complexity of your case and the types of decisions involved, a number of subsequent meetings may be required. Four-way meeting with the couple and attorneys will keep the process on track and working towards conclusion. If the participants decide that outside experts are necessary for advice on specific issues, the parties may meet with the expert in between group meetings. You and your attorney may decide to meet together either prior to or immediately following the group meetings to discuss the progress of your case. Additionally the attorneys will prepare the necessary paperwork to finalize your case. One of the benefits of the collaborative process is that you are in control of the pace of your divorce and can decide how many sessions are necessary. Some cases can be resolved in 2-3 three group sessions, while other cases may take longer. However you can expect that the time involved in your out-of-court group meetings will be substantially less than the time involved in preparing for and conducting the typical in-court trial.
Step 4 – Final Meeting / Signing Celebration
After the couple has made all necessary legal decisions, the attorneys will prepare the final settlement paperwork and accompanying orders. The parties may arrange a formal or informal event to sign the settlement paperwork, or the paperwork can be completed separately in the office of each party’s attorney. Assuming Iowa’s required 90-day waiting period has either expired or been waived by the court, the final paperwork can be submitted immediately to the court for approval.
If you are looking for more information about the steps of the collaborative divorce process, please call our offices at 515-661-4588 or submit a consultation request to begin.