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Collaborative Divorce Lawyers in San Bernardino

Trust Your Case to Our San Bernardino Divorce Attorneys

There is a relatively new method of dispute resolution in family law known as collaborative divorce. It can be thought of as a hybrid approach to old litigation techniques and alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation. Under a collaborative divorce process, the San Bernardino divorce attorneys for each party will work together in the best interests of both parties, using cooperative strategies instead of adversarial techniques and with a stated aim to avoid court. A collaborative divorce will succeed if both parties agree to no litigation during the negotiations and are committed to a negotiated outcome. The process cannot be used if either party disagrees to the collaborative divorce.

If you are considering a divorce, discuss your options with a knowledgeable lawyer.

At the Law Office of Michael R. Young, our team of divorce lawyers has over 50 years of experience and can handle whatever family law issue you are facing. As a result of our hard work and commitment to client satisfaction, our firm has been recognized by numerous organizations, including an AV® rating from the prestigious attorney rating firm, Martindale-Hubbell®.

We offer consultations and work tirelessly to represent your best interests. You can reach us at (909) 315-4588.

Why Choose Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce is designed to channel the emotions of divorce into a positive process. The fundamental principle for this method is simple: the dissolution of marriage is an extremely emotional process and should be addressed as such, rather than a legal struggle. The goal is to approach divorce with a problem-solving mentality, preserve the emotions of the parties and their children, and reach a resolution that will have long-term benefits for the family by minimizing hostility.

How do you begin the collaborative divorce process?

  • Discuss: The first step is for both parties is to open a dialogue and discuss the idea of a collaborative divorce. Remember, that the couple must be in agreement in order to begin the process, otherwise a collaborative divorce will not be permitted.
  • Choose an attorney: Next, the parties will each choose a divorce attorney who has experience in facilitating collaborative divorces. An initial meeting will be held where the party will explain their concerns and goals to the attorney. The attorney will review their options and create a strategy and ensure that no barriers to the process exist, such as, abuse, safety, or mental health issues.
  • Participation agreement: Both parties and their attorneys will enter into a “Participation Agreement.” This agreement promises that the attorney will work to reach a settlement in the best interests of both clients, and if no settlement is reached, the attorneys will withdraw and not engage in litigation. As a result, the retainer fees to all attorneys are solely for the purpose of the collaborative divorce, removing any motivation to pursue litigation in the future.

Participation Agreement

The “Participation Agreement” will set forth the promises and conditions of the parties to the collaborative divorce.

The provisions will generally contain the following:

  • The parties will entrust their attorneys to assist in reaching an amicable settlement
  • All outstanding issues will be negotiated and settled in a non-attacking manner
  • The best interests of any children will be promoted by both parties and both parties agree to reach a settlement that minimizes emotional trauma
  • Neutral professionals, such as counselors, may be retained to help direct the couple
  • At what point(s) that withdrawal or ending the process will be reached

The process develops into a collaborative arrangement, with a series of meetings with trained professionals and counselors who work to educate and resolve all of the issues surrounding the divorce. The issues will not be resolved at the outset, but by going in with the mentality of preserving the interests of each party and the children, an amicable resolution will result in a much less emotionally taxing outcome. Furthermore, by engaging in a collaborative process, the parties remove the power of the court to impose its own determinations as to how the divorce should be resolved.

The Difference Between Regular Divorce & Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce removes an adversarial approach as well as the court’s power to impose its opinions and judgment over the parties. Rather, the parties agree not to engage the court and to resolve the divorce in a respectful, mutual manner that promotes everyone’s best interest.

The California courts website outlines this process here.

The difference between a regular divorce and a collaborative divorce:

  • Non-adversarial approach - Unlike a conventional divorce where each party seeks to win an advantage over the other, in a collaborative divorce the parties work together towards reaching mutual resolution that meets the best interests of the parties and their children in a non-adversarial approach.
  • Removal of court power - In addition, collaborative divorce removes court involvement. When cases go to court, they naturally take on an adversarial approach. The longer the parties disagree, the more power the court will gain in its authority to make decisions, regardless of the objectives of the parties. Courts want to encourage cooperation, and when that breaks down, it will step in and make its own determinations.

Collaborative divorce ends with a settlement agreement that is reached without incurring the usual costs and stress that is involved in a traditional litigated case. The nature of the collaborative divorce is more respectful and reduces the conflicts found in traditional methods. The end result is a safe process that seeks to minimize emotional harm to the couple and family members involved.

Preserving Family Emotions & the Best Interests of Children

When the family involves children, collaborative divorce may be the more appropriate course of action. Remember that the process is designed to reaching fair results and resolving differences. The goal is to minimize the involvement of the children in the divorce process, while ensuring that their best interests are put forward. The parties work to achieve these goals rather than acting adversely against each other.

Counselor & Advisor Teams

In a collaborative divorce, each party will hire their own team to facilitate their objectives during the divorce process. In addition to an attorney, the party will have access to a counselor who will assist in helping to educate and understand the process and meet emotional needs. Additionally, a financial advisor will be involved in assisting with the financial issues surrounding the dissolution. In cases involving children, a child life specialist is retained as well to facilitate custody and visitation matters.


There must be complete disclosure by both sides. In doing so, the objectives and goals of each party is made known to the other side. This means that each party is aware of the other’s position, removing unknown tactics or strategies and showing good-faith through transparency.

Is Collaborative Divorce Different Than Mediation?

Yes. In mediation, a mediator acts as a neutral third-party who listens to both parties’ positions and offers a resolution. However, there are limitations.

Mediation has the following limitations:

  • A mediator does not have the ability to provide legal advice.
  • A mediator cannot make a decision for either party, as a judge would.
  • Mediation usually does not resolve all aspects of the divorce.

In a collaborative divorce, each party’s attorney provides legal advice based on the goals of their clients, then engages in negotiations with the opposing attorney to reach a settlement. When a settlement is reached, all issues will have been resolved and the agreement will be final and contractually binding.

When Is Collaborative Divorce Appropriate?

The goal of collaborative divorce is to protect and preserve the emotional and financial resources of the parties, obtain closure on the marriage and move forward with life. It is most appropriate when the objective of the parties is to minimize the harmful emotional impact that divorce will have on their children. Furthermore, collaborative divorce is a time and emotionally-effective process. By its nature, it avoids the escalation aspects of a litigated divorce, which can drive up costs and be quite lengthy.

When both parties desire to reorganize their lives with minimal cost, length, emotional pain and keep the children’s best interests in the forefront, they may be prime candidates for collaborative divorce.

When Is Collaborative Divorce Not Appropriate?

When trust has been irreparably disrupted between the couple, there is no desire to be amicable, or where either party seeks to “get back” at the other, collaborative divorce is not appropriate. Relationships involving abuse or safety issues, untreated drug or alcohol addictions, criminal or juvenile cases of child abuse or neglect will disqualify a couple from using the collaborative divorce process.

More Than 40 Collective Years Resolving Divorces in California

The goal of collaborative divorce is to work with parties who are willing to learn, understand, and take ownership for their actions and the choices they have made. The dissolution of marriage is a difficult task and both parties must agree to focus on reaching an amicable resolution and further the best interests of the children. The Law Office of Michael R. Young is well-versed in facilitating collaborative divorces and has a proven track record of negotiating and reaching beneficial outcomes. We engage a team of counselors, financial planners, and other professionals in order to ensure a mutual resolution. We can tactfully address your negotiations, ensuring your rights will be protected and your future considered.

Begin a consultation with a San Bernardino divorce lawyer by calling (909) 315-4588!

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