COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE PILOT PROJECT
The 2014 Collaborative Divorce Pilot Project is sponsored by the Family Court, the Mediation Center of the Pacific (“MCP”), and the Collaborative Divorce Hawai‘i Practice Group (“CDHPG”).
The first one hundred (100) spouses who file for divorce without attorneys and without motions starting January 2, 2014, and their spouses, will be invited by the Family Court to participate in the project. All two hundred (200) spouses will receive a special invitation letter from the Family Court.
Any of the one hundred (100) couples invited to participate in the project can try to mediate their divorce at MCP.
- In an MCP divorce mediation two trained and experienced neutral mediators will help the couple exchange necessary and important information, express their real interests, identify possible settlement solutions, and hopefully resolve their divorce issues agreeably without litigation.
- Those who engage in an MCP mediation would be placed either in MCP’s new “Comprehensive Mediation Program” designed to mediate certain couples through the execution of their divorce paperwork in just three (3) sessions, or MCP’s regular divorce mediation program.
- While mediation does not guarantee complete success, most mediations result in at least partial agreements, and nearly all parents who have gone through a divorce mediation report that it improved their ability to communicate with the other parent.
- Those participating in an MCP mediation would do so at MCP’s facilities in downtown Honolulu.
- Those who participate in an MCP mediation will pay a fee based on family income.
Couples in the project can also together apply to participate in a collaborative settlement process with CDHPG collaborative professionals.
- In traditional collaborative divorce practice, divorcing couples each hire their own attorneys to assist them exchange necessary and important information, identify possible settlement solutions, and resolve their divorce issues agreeably, with the understanding that if settlement does not occur, new lawyers will be required. For attorneys, divorce representation thus becomes solution oriented as opposed to adversarial. Former “gladiator/litigators” become problem solvers, where everyone has a vested interest in a fair settlement.
- While collaborative practice has been growing in popularity around the world for nearly 20 years, collaborative divorce practice is brand-new in Hawai‘i, following the passage of the 2012 Hawai‘i Uniform Collaborative Law Act.
- Each spouse involved in a collaborative process will have his or her own CDHPG collaborative attorney. The spouses and their attorneys will participate in a collaborative process culminating in a single up-to-four (4) hour face-to-face collaborative settlement session with the couple and their CDHPG collaborative attorneys.
- A CDHPG collaborative financial expert will work with the couple to prepare them for the settlement session. A CDHPG collaborative mental health professional may also be involved.
- Application to participate is made by the couple together. The application will include a joint Family Court Asset and Debt Statement and, where minor children are involved, a Family Court parenting plan.
- Because of resource limitations, the couples who apply to participate in a collaborative process must demonstrate that they can together at least preliminarily fill out a joint Asset and Debt Statement. Also, because we don’t have the ability to address custody disputes, couples with minor children must submit a joint parenting plan.
- The attorneys representing the spouses in a collaborative engagement will serve as Family Court masters. So too will the involved collaborative financial and mental health practitioners be appointed as masters. The involvement of all collaborative practitioners will end at the end of the face-to-face collaborative engagement session, whether or not the couple has signed uncontested divorce documentation.
- Those participating in a collaborative settlement session would do so at the offices of the involved CDHPG collaborative attorneys.
- There will be no cost to the participants.
To learn more, you are invited to attend one of the “Divorce Options in Hawai‘i” informational meetings to be conducted at the following times, dates, and places.
- Thursday, February 13, 2014 at noon at the Supreme Court Courtroom, 2nd Floor (417 S. King Street)
- Thursday, March 13, 2014 at noon at the Supreme Court Theatre, 1st Floor (417 S. King Street)
- Thursday, April 10, 2014 at noon at the Supreme Court Courtroom, 2nd Floor (417 S. King Street)
- Thursday, May 22, 2014 at noon at the Supreme Court Courtroom, 2nd Floor (417 S. King Street)
Basic information about divorce law in Hawai‘i, divorce process, and divorce options, including “kitchen table settlement”, attorney settlement, mediation, arbitration/private judging, collaborative divorce, and litigation will be presented. Written informational materials will be provided to those who attend. Forms to start an MCP mediation, and to apply to participate in a collaborative process, as well as blank Asset and Debt Statements and Parenting Plans, will be available.
For additional information of possible assistance to those in the process of divorce, or those helping them, go to the following websites.
- Hawai‘i State Judiciary (www.courts.state.hi.us)
- Family Court Kids First Program (www.kidsfirsthawaii.com)
- Mediation Center of the Pacific (www.mediatehawaii.org)
- American Bar Association Family Law Section (http://www.americanbar.org/groups/family_law.html)
- Hawai‘i State Bar Association Family Law Section (www.hawaiifamilylawsection.org)
- International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (www.collaborativepractice.com)
- Collaborative Divorce Hawai‘i Practice Group (www.collaborativedivorcehawaii.org)
- Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (www.afccnet.org)