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What happens if you argue during a collaborative divorce?

Springfield, VA |

Ex and I have a few issues we argue over and haven't reached a resolution. Because we only have a few things left to settle, I'm thinking we might be able to use a collaborative divorce attorney.

What happens if we argue during this process? Will the attorney help us reach a resolution by explaining to us who is wrong/right who would win/lose if we battled in court? Or, if we argued, would we just be left to hire individual attorney's anyway?

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Attorney answers 3


Typically, in a collaborative divorce, each side hires an attorney to help negotiate a settlement. Normally, before negotiations begin, each side agrees that if a settlement cannot be reached and the case becomes contested in court, the attorneys will withdraw.

In many circumstances, the attorney that you used to represent you in the collaborative process would not represent you in court. Other experts (such as child psychologists, CPAs, etc.) can be brought into the collaborative process as well.

Attorneys can often help clients resolve an issue by trying to explain "who is wrong/right" and "who would win/lose" in court. However, your question assumes that there is a right or wrong answer for every issue that may come up.

You may hear some attorneys refer to a court battle as "going to Vegas." This is because most of the time, you can never be completely sure of the outcome in a particular case if a judge has to make the final decision. This is particularly so in divorce cases because many of the issues in a divorce, like "the best interests of a child" or the "equities of the parties" often do not have a clear-cut right or wrong answer. Just like two different sets of parents can have different views on raising children - so too can different judges.

Because of this, it is often difficult for attorneys to predict exactly what will happen if you go to court. An experienced attorney may have a good deal of insight as to what might happen, or what is likely to happen, if you go to court. However there are many issues where it is not possible to make a prediction on the outcome with any certainty.

Many attorneys and clients prefer collaborative divorce because they feel it lacks the adversarial nature of a contested court case and creates an environment that fosters cooperation. Others feel that by agreeing not to go to court, clients may be getting themselves into a situation where their hands are tied unnecessarily.

Ultimately, the decision to pursue a collaborative divorce is yours to make. Just keep in mind that choosing not to pursue a collaborative divorce doesn't necessarily mean your case will be a fully litigated "battle." Even if you do not participate in a "collaborative" divorce process as that term is typically used, it is still certainly possible to negotiate, mediate, or take other steps toward a settlement of your case.

It would probably be worthwhile for you to consult with an attorney about the specific issues in your case and your options for dealing with them.


I agree with my colleague. The collaborative or uncontested divorce is a time and financially efficient process. However, it is not uncommon for the parties to have slight disagreements before or during the process. That is why it is important for each party to hire counsel, even for an uncontested divorce. One attorney will naturally take the lead with drafting the documents and advising one client, while the other attorney will protect the other party's interests by negotiating the disagreements and reviewing the documents. Good luck!

This answer is for general informational purposes only. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. It is always recommended that you contact an attorney licensed in your state, that practices in the relevant area of law, to schedule an in-person consultation.


Like mediation, collaborative divorce is a fairly modern construct which is not without its flaws. If you cannot agree, it dies on the vine, and you are left with the need to litigate the unresolved issues. In fact, sometimes, you're left with the need to litigate all of the issues, since the other issues formerly agreed to will no doubt be withdrawn in a contested proceeding. If you cannot agree, roll up your sleeves and hire counsel. Good luck.

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