Readers may be familiar with the news of Angelina Jolie’s divorce filing against Brad Pitt. A recent article suggested that Jolie might opt for negotiations outside the courtroom.

Collaborative divorce is one way to avoid the privacy invasion that accompanies court filings. It may also shield children from the public’s eye. Instead of litigating in court, a couple signs a contract, agreeing to resolve the material issues of the divorce through the collaborative process. Each party also retains an attorney who has special training in this type of alternative dispute resolution.

Here’s how the process works: In a series of meetings, the parties and their attorneys share information with each other. There typically is no need for formal requests for documents or deposition testimony, since the parties have already committed to the open process. If experts are needed, the parties jointly retain them for advice on issues like financial accounting, inventory and valuation of the marital estate. Child specialists may also be utilized. The timeline for deciding these issues is also up to the parties.

After the parties have resolved the material divorce issues, they can present a proposed settlement agreement to the court. The court will review the proposal, and if approved, set forth the terms in a confidential marital settlement agreement. Some matters, such as child support, may need to be disclosed to comply with applicable laws. However, the vast majority of personal information is kept confidential. Costs with this approach are also much lower, as the attorneys generally do not have to devote time to court filings or preparing for court appearances.

Source: Business Journal, “How to divorce without publicizing your private life,” Joana Posey, Oct. 18, 2016