The term “divorce” is itself laden with baggage. It’s an arduous process that painfully tears your life apart, but it doesn’t have to. A new method of divorce – called “collaborative divorce” – is sweeping the nation. It allows couples to work together on their shared objectives, splitting up on their own terms, instead of working as adversaries.

In a collaborative divorce, both parties agree not to go to court. Instead, each party hires a “collaboratively trained” attorney to represent them, and each party agrees to provide full disclosure to the other. The attitude is more creative and cooperative in a collaborative divorce; the focus is on taking the needs of both parties into account and coming up with a solution that suits everyone.

The two attorneys aren’t the only players in the collaborative divorce, either. Each party gets a divorce coach, who is a mental health professional trained to guide you through the process of the divorce. There are also various specialists called in for various areas of your lives, such as the financial aspect and the children. These specialists help each party look at the situation objectively, so that a solution can be found that suits everyone. At the end, a separation agreement is drawn up, which legally divides up all the assets and liabilities; then the parties wait until the separation has been in effect for a year (six months, under certain circumstances) to file for an uncontested no-fault divorce.

Despite the increased number of professionals involved, collaborative divorces typically cost less than the litigious option. In addition, collaborative divorces tend to wrap up faster, and those involved report the greatest amount of satisfaction with the end result. Rarely do collaborative negotiations fail though it is still possible. When negotiations do fall through, parties must hire different lawyers and start the process over. This may sound harsh, but it’s a legal necessity, after going through the steps of full disclosure, a collaborative attorney will have too much knowledge about the opposite side’s point of view to be able to represent their client properly.

If you have found that separation is the only option left to you and your partner, and you don’t want to go through the legal mess of a divorce, consider the collaborative option. Call your local Bakersfield divorce lawyer to discuss your options; they will be able to determine the best course of action for your situation.