Harper Forensic Consultants > History of Collaborative Divorce

Posted on July 21, 2013


From J. David Harper, CPA, ABV, PFS, CFF, CBA, CVA:

“Collaborative Divorce is a relatively new approach. The concept was first birthed in the early 1990s when lawyers finally realized that divorce is not a legal issue; it is a personal relationship issue that has legal attachments. Prior to the 1990s, all divorce cases were generally handled the same way – each side was viewed as an adversary, the husband and wife would be represented by their own respective lawyers who would spend a large amount of time and money fighting over the house, cars, other assets, the children, future support payments, and sometimes even the family pet. In the end, in most cases, there was generally only one winner – the lawyers.

In 1990, attorney Stuart Webb, after 15 years of practicing divorce law, decided to find a solution to all the aggravation and “battling” involved in settling divorce issues in court. On February 14, 1990, Mr. Webb wrote a letter to Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Sandy Keith describing this new “collaborative” process. In the letter he asks: Why not create an intentional settlement climate that encourages cooperation and creative alternatives? He states:

“You and I have both experienced, I’m sure, those occasional times, occurring usually by accident, when in the course of attempting to negotiate a family law settlement, we find ourselves in a conference with the opposing counsel, and perhaps the respective clients, where the dynamics were such that in a climate of positive energy, creative alternatives were presented. In that context, everyone contributed to a final settlement that satisfied all concerned – and everyone left the conference feeling high energy, good feelings and satisfaction. More than likely, the possibility for change in the way the parties related to each other in the future may have greatly increased… Why not create this settlement climate deliberately?”

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