January 21, 2013

What Is a Participation Agreement in a Divorce?

What Is a Participation Agreement in a Divorce?

You are getting a divorce. Whether you live in Jupiter or in West Palm Beach, it is a difficult decision to make. Fortunately, after diligent research into the topic, you and your spouse agreed that a collaborative process was the right way to proceed. You each looked around the Palm Beaches and found an attorney. Now the four of you will have your first meeting. Much of this principal meeting will concern the Participation Agreement. So what is it?

A Participation Agreement is a legal document negotiated and signed by spouses along with each of their attorneys and other team members in a collaborative divorce. According to Collaborative Divorce Tampa Bay, this agreement commits everyone in the process to:

  • Identify the goals and interests of each client;
  • Empower the clients to control the process and make decisions;
  • Fully disclose relevant information;
  • Maintain all meetings, discussions, and disclosures as confidential;
  • Refrain from litigating or threatening to litigate; and
  • Develop settlement options.

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Once the Participation Agreement is reviewed and negotiated in the initial face-to-face meeting, signed by the divorcing couple and attorneys, the rest of the team members will sign.

Collaborative Divorce Buffalo points out a merit of the Collaborative Process' agreement that it holds with it the "understanding that if either party terminates the collaborative law process, both attorneys are disqualified from representing the parties in litigation. In this event, both parties must hire new attorneys to represent their interests going forward." This motivates attorneys to work at making the collaborative process successful for their clients.

Other members of the collaborative divorce team are bound by the same code of conduct as the attorneys, and their roles may be further defined in the Agreement. If a team has a financial specialist, for example, the scope of her professional work with "financial and tax advice, valuations, cash flow analysis," etc. may be detailed in the agreement. As with the lawyers, she would not be able to continue to work with the couple if they quit the collaborative process.

To fully initiate the collaborative divorce process a couple must utilize a legally binding participation agreement. If not for the framework it provides, the process itself would likely falter and revert easily to a fully litigated divorce. Taking the time with lawyers to understand and work through this agreement is an important foundation for divorcing and beyond.


Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding dissolution of marriage while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss divorce in Florida, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A.The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. or call 561-478-0312.


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