For future ex-partners

Collaborative divorce: separating sensibly

The decision to divorce is not always an easy one and it becomes even more difficult if there are disagreements and conflicts involved. Fortunately you can opt for a collaborative divorce. In that case you separate by agreement in consultation. Trust is the starting point for this. In this manner, you will be able to spare your children, yourself and also your future ex-partner much sorrow, stress and trouble.

Find your Collaborative Divorce Professional

If you want to find a collaborative divorce professional in your region, please use the search function below.

VvCP member register

Find your collaborative practice professional

Frequently asked questions

Do you have any questions about a collaborative divorce? Please consult the list of frequently asked questions below. Is your question not listed? Then do not hesitate to contact us for further information.

Will a collaborative divorce also work if one of the spouses is still very angry?

Yes, because there is a coach and because there are individual lawyers. The partner’s anger will be heard, seen and accepted and this means that these emotions will form less of a barrier when searching for solutions. Emotions such as anger, sadness, powerlessness and uncertainty will be discussed in the preliminary process, so that the actual consultation will be less emotionally charged. Consequently, a collaborative divorce is a good way of separating.

Is a collaborative divorce much more expensive than mediation?

Any divorce involves costs. If there are two equal partners without children and there are no complicated financial discussions or arguments, these partners can usually suffice with mediation. Indeed, in such cases our professionals always advise mediation. However, if during the mediation process expert assistance is required, the costs can quickly rise to the level of costs of a collaborative divorce. In a collaborative divorce the experts are involved from the beginning and they do not have to be informed of the course of events or of the stage of the process at a later date. This saves time and therefore money. Another advantage is that everyone can respond at an early stage to matters that crop up, as a result of which things do not escalate unnecessarily. The coach, who is the independent chairperson of the collaborative divorce team, will make sure that emotions that could prevent a successful solution by means of mediation are addressed in a timely manner. In addition, a collaborative divorce is also suitable for people who feel that one mediator can not properly represent both ex-partners whereas, with a collaborative divorce, each future ex-partner has their own lawyer present at the table.

Can we make different arrangements in a collaborative divorce than in a divorce through the courts?

Yes, many more arrangements can be made by agreement compared to divorce proceedings before a court. The courts only look at the rules and do not take individual wishes, worries, hopes, fears and interests into consideration.

What does this mean for our children?

Even though you are no longer partners, you are still parents. Your children will benefit from a calmer environment. If you go in search of solutions together in a respectful manner, you ensure that your children can return to their normal lives as soon as possible. With a collaborative divorce you do not have to fight legal actions over the heads of the children and you will not make the divorce unnecessarily harder for them than it already is.

What does collaborative divorce mean?

Meetings will be held with a team of both ex-partners, lawyers and experts, during which information will be exchanged. During these meetings you can express your needs and expectations. This method is clear, transparent and reasonable. It is important that all lines of communication stay open: the only way to resolve problem areas is to discuss them.

Are my chances of co-parenting greater with a collaborative divorce?

Definitely: with a collaborative divorce you will have the best chance to be the best parents for your child and to exercise joint parenting effectively; a transformation from partnership to parenthood. Do you want to divorce and you have children? Or are you not married and want to separate but you have children? In that case a collaborative divorce is a good option.

What is collaborative divorce?

Collaborative divorce is another way of divorcing and originates from the United States. With this method, the partners, their lawyers and other persons involved work together on a respectful divorce. Collaborative divorce lawyers work from a collaborative perspective, instead of a competitive perspective. They search for a suitable solution that benefits everyone. Collaborative divorce lawyers are specifically trained for this.

We want to separate but we are not married. Can we also have a collaborative divorce?

If there is a registered partnership, there will be matters to be dealt with that are similar to those in a marriage. A collaborative divorce is just as useful for a registered partnership. This can also be the case for cohabitation, certainly if there are children involved. It is also important in that case that custody, maintenance and the care arrangement are arranged to everyone's satisfaction without the children being adversely affected. Furthermore, a parenting plan is mandatory even if the parents are not married. If there are maintenance arrangements in the cohabitation contract, or if arrangements have been made regarding the division of assets or pensions in self-administration, it can be useful to engage a neutral financial expert.

Can I bring along my personal financial adviser or coach?

No. The collaborative divorce team consists of professionals who have been specifically trained for this purpose, who know the process and want to achieve the best result for both parties. Unless your adviser or coach is a recognised collaborative divorce professional and is also accepted by your partner, it is impossible to include these persons in the collaborative divorce team. Moreover, the relationship with the professionals must end once the divorce is a fact. Therefore, after the divorce you will no longer be able to engage the lawyer, the coach or the financial adviser who has assisted you during the collaborative divorce.

What if there are still matters left unresolved?

There is a small chance of this happening, because everyone at the table will do their utmost to prevent this situation. A messy divorce costs much more time, money and emotional upheaval: nobody wants that. In the unlikely event that the collaborative divorce does not succeed, both partners must engage another lawyer and must submit the (remaining) points of dispute to the court. Any financial experts involved must also withdraw at that point. None of that which has been discussed during the collaborative divorce will be used in any court proceedings.

How do I get my partner to participate?

This is sometimes a difficult matter. We will help you as much as possible to persuade your reluctant partner to participate in the proceedings.

Is a collaborative divorce suitable for us?

Is a collaborative divorce suitable for us?


Collaborative divorce:

  • is to agree that you will not go to court, but instead will resolve matters by agreement
  • entails a comprehensive and honest exchange of information between the partners
  • guarantees that parents and children have the highest priority
  • is arranged with an expert team of lawyers, a coach and a financial expert
  • offers space for each other’s wishes and provides tailor-made solutions
  • is faster, cheaper and longer lasting than legal proceedings.


A collaborative divorce is suitable for:

  • people who are considering a divorce and who have children
  • entrepreneurs who are considering a divorce
  • people who want to separate but who have vastly unequal financial positions, or who are in a very different position with regard to knowledge and/or coming to terms with the divorce.

The origin of Collaborative Practice

Stu Webb grondlegger van de Collaborative Practice

In the beginning there was Stu

The story of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals starts with the founder of the Collaborative movement: Stu Webb, from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Stu had been practising traditional family law for more than twenty years when, at the end of the late 1980s, he became interested in mediation and alternative dispute resolutions. Stu's challenge was to find a way to bring the special talent of lawyers as problem solvers into a process of "agreement/consultation" for family law. Stu envisaged a model whereby lawyers could not go to court under any circumstance whatsoever. If the option of going to court was absent in a dispute, lawyers would have no other choice but to address the challenge of solving a problem by agreement.

The Collaborative Practice was set up from this understanding. In 1990, Stu informed his clients and colleagues that he would no longer go to court; he would only continue to represent clients in a collaborative negotiation process, exclusively focused on creative solutions. If the process did not result in an agreement between the parties, Stu would refer his clients to another lawyer to have the dispute adjudicated in the traditional manner and he would then withdraw from the process.

This is the origin of the collaborative divorce and collaborative practice. Since 2008, we have also embraced this in the Netherlands. We now call this collaborative divorce and collaborative practice. The exclusion of going to court is essential in this respect. We are thankful to Stu Webb for initiating this movement.