Collaborative Divorce Practice

Collaborative divorce practice is a process whereby each party hires an attorney and all four work together in a cooperative, non-adversarial approach with a mutual goal of reaching a fair settlement of all issues. The process attempts to avoid the emotional and financial expense of traditional litigation.

The parties and attorneys agree to communicate and negotiate directly with one another in structured four-way settlement meetings. A structured process for gathering information and communicating at and between the four-way meetings is followed. Binding commitments are made by both parties and their respective attorneys to voluntarily disclose all financial and other relevant information, to proceed respectfully and in good faith in settlement negotiations and to refrain from the threat or use of litigation. The parties agree that they will not go to court for trials on disputed issues, and if anyone wants to do so, both attorneys must withdraw.

Collaborative practice also involves the use of mental health coaches to assist the family members through the emotional aspects of the divorce and create a situation where each party is open to resolutions that benefit all members of the family. A child specialist can be used to give feedback and advice on a parenting plan that maximizes the best interests of the children. A financial specialist is used to educate the parties about the financial consequences and opportunities of a divorce, and to help generate financial options, tax savings, and evaluations.

When necessary, other experts are brought into the process as neutrals who are jointly retained by the parties. These experts may include a pension valuator or a real estate appraiser. This avoids the necessity of having each party hire his or her own expert and create "dualing" experts.

The collaborative divorce process may involve a team approach; including financial advisors and mental health professionals, with the parties' attorneys serving as settlement specialists. This process encourages creative problem solving, win-win negotiations, and resolutions that meet the needs of all members of the family.

International experience indicates that collaborative divorce process produces greater satisfaction of the parties and better results for children, and parties who are less likely to return to court to litigate issues in the future. Most significantly, the parties are directly involved in the process and retain control over their outcome. For more information on the collaborative law process please contact one of our attorneys or go to

The Collaborative process is not just for people who get along. It is designed for people with difficult situations and complicated cases. The process does not avoid conflict; rather, it is a process that manages conflict and attempts to turn the conflict into creative resolutions. The process also has the goal of managing the conflict to assist that parties to interact in a productive way after the divorce is over.

In collaborative process, each party must be willing to compromise and be open to a result completely unanticipated at the beginning of the process, or completely different than what a friend, neighbor, or family member experienced in his or her divorce process.

All members of Burbach & Stansbury S.C. are experienced collaborative professionals and have held leadership positions in the growth of the collaborative practice in Wisconsin.