Collaborative Family Law Frequently Asked Questions

The Law Office of Shelly M. Ingram offers families the option of using the Collaborative process to resolve disputes outside of court. Collaborative divorce is a form of alternative dispute resolution that can minimize conflict and allow your family to reach a flexible, durable agreement tailored to your needs. Collaborative can make the divorce process easier on you, your spouse, and especially your children. Many people are unfamiliar with the concept of Collaborative Divorce and want to learn more. Here are some of the questions we frequently hear, and our answers. 


What is collaborative?

Collaborative is alternative dispute process that can be used to resolve family matters out of court and with the assistance of a professional team. As part of the collaborative process, both parties retain their own attorneys. Both parties and their counsel sign a collaborative participation agreement that requires a commitment to transparency and to resolve matters out of court.

How does collaborative work?

The Collaborative process typically starts when one or both parties consult with a collaboratively trained attorney.  With the help of their attorneys, the parties may select additional professionals to be party of a collaborative team.  Additional professionals include Financial Neutrals, Divorce Coaches, and Child Specialists.  Each member of the Collaborative team must sign a Collaborative participation agreement, which requires 100% disclosure of all material facts, mutual respect, sharing of experts and information, and most importantly, a pledge to keep the matter out of court.  The end-goal of Collaborative is to reach an amicable and mutually acceptable solution.

Is Collaborative divorce faster than going to Court?

While there is no set timeline for a traditional or a Collaborative divorce, there is a tendency for Collaborative to take less time.  While each family situation is different, Collaborative provides a forward-looking, problem-solving approach, as opposed to litigation which often requires focusing on the past and assigning blame.

Is a Collaborative better for children?

Divorce is difficult on children no matter the process. collaborative divorce can help ease the burden. Because it’s a very client-centered process, the needs of children are emphasized and prioritized in Collaborative. Many times the Collaborative team includes a child specialist, which is a licensed mental health professional trained to help parents and professionals focus on the developmental needs and feelings of children and develop a co-parenting plan designed to meet those needs. 


The answers to these questions are general in nature and are not intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to replace specific legal advice. We invite you to contact our office at (301) 658-7354 to schedule a consultation, so that we can learn about the facts of your case and respond to the particulars of your unique situation.

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Shelly has devoted her legal career to family matters both in and out of the courtroom. As a child of divorce and a person who has been divorced herself, Shelly understands the uncertainty and frustrations of custody and divorce... Read More