Wisconsin Law Journal > Family Law: Why Collaborative Divorce Continues to Decline in Popularity

Posted on July 29, 2013


From Gregg Herman, Esq.:

With this many years of statistics now available and the above-stated maxim still applicable, a conclusion may be drawn: Collaborative divorce is a minuscule part of our family-law system, notwithstanding the number of trainings and meetings put on by the group.

So, why hasn’t this seemingly helpful methodology of settlement grown beyond a tiny number of cases?

One reason, for sure, is the cost of the process. Of the calls I’ve received about handling a case collaboratively, most, if not all, have been centered not on a goal of achieving a peaceful process, but on saving attorney fees. Yet, the collaborative process not only requires both sides to have lawyers, but frequently involves numerous other professionals, such a child specialist, mental-health coaches for both parties and an independent financial expert. At a time when more divorcing parties are choosing to have no lawyers at all, a collaborative case typically requires more money, not less.

In addition, derived or not, there is a general perception that the collaborative movement is not only cliquish, but exclusive. Certainly, it seems that the same individuals are recycled as officers and speakers. Worse, the perception is that the proponents are evangelistic — believing not just that collaborative is one of a number of alternatives, but that it is the best method of divorcing. That attitude is a turn-off for those who believe that practitioners need to keep an open mind and be flexible so that the strategy fits an individual case, and not the other way around.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the relatively few collaborative cases that have failed tend to receive more notice than the ones that succeed. Since, by design, the cost of failure is so high, there’s a reluctance for practitioners to recommend that clients take the risk.

Read more at the Wisconsin Law Journal.