Susan S. Williams
A Fredericksburg, VA area Family Lawyer and Divorce Lawyer
Fredericksburg, VA - King George, VA - Westmoreland, VA

Collaborative Divorce

Divorce brings financial, legal and emotional issues that can seem insurmountable and, in the resulting chaos,   conflict often spirals out of control, leaving a legacy of fear, anger, resentment, fatigue and worry. You want it over with but it becomes difficult to make practical decisions. Your divorce agreement will impact the well-being of your family for many years to come, so it is important to achieve not just any settlement but one that truly meets your needs and those of your children.  Reaching an amicable settlement and avoiding a bitter and costly court battle may seem impossible.

Collaborative Divorce is a new way to resolve those difficult high stress situations through a respectful and mutually agreed upon process designed to help people build good decisions that will allow their lives to work well after divorce.

What is Collaborative Practice?

Collaborative Practice is a method of resolving family issues, such as divorce, without going to court.  Collaborative Practice is a cooperative, voluntary process in which participants work with a team of professional advisors to craft their own agreements.  Because it focuses on a “win-win” approach rather than an “I win-you lose” approach, the Collaborative method is especially well suited to co-parenting situations.

How does it work?

The Collaborative method consists of a series of private and confidential meetings in which the couple and their professional Collaborative Practice advisors discuss concerns, gather information and develop options.  The parties, with the help of their advisors, negotiate an optimal arrangement that meets the needs of both parties.  The resulting agreement becomes a legally binding divorce settlement document.

Why choose Collaborative Divorce?

Who are the Collaborative Practice advisors?

A professional team will be assembled based on the participants’ needs, including:

These professionals work together toward the same goal: to help the couple clarify each person's goals, develop multiple options, and identify fair solutions.

Watch a Video about One Couple's Collaborative Experience

Get an idea of what the Collaborative Process looks like from the perspective of the participants by following along as one couple works through their differences to reach agreement in this video from the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals:

Click to watch the video - Collaborative Divorce: A Safe Place

Things you should know about Collaborative Divorce

What does Collaborative Divorce cost?

As with any process involving negotiation it is not possible to state with certainty what the cost will be.  It typically is considerably less than the cost of a fully litigated case.  Each attorney bills his or her client individually. The fees of the other professionals are split as the parties decide.  Cost efficiencies are achieved through using professionals other than attorneys to perform tasks for which they are more qualified and can do more quickly and at a lesser rate than the attorneys.  The process will move more quickly and cost less if parties are prepared and gather the needed data as requested.  Resources are wasted if clients cling to unrealistic expectations in spite of the attorneys and other team members' best efforts to keep things moving forward.

How long does Collaborative Divorce take?

The answer depends on the parties.  How fast do they wish to go?  How cooperative can they be?  Are they prepared for meetings and do they complete tasks on time? These factors are generally more determinative than the number and complexity of the issues.  You should allow at least six months, but every dispute is different and it may take a greater or shorter amount of time depending on the people and their readiness make decisions on the issues involved.

For more information

Contact me at or (540)775-9710, or visit these websites:

Our local Collaborative Practice Group:
International Academy of Collaborative Professionals:


9362 Kings Highway
P.O. Box 469
King George, VA 22485

Phone (540) 775-9710

Fax (540) 775-4907


Visit our Frequently Asked Questions for answers to many of the common questions about Divorce Mediation and Collaborative Divorce

Download this one-page comparison and discover if mediation or collaborative are right for you

Watch this 20-minute video about one couple's experience with collaborative

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