The following passage of an article from the Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay discusses a collaborative law agreement, how parties are encouraged to settle rather than institute a court action, and the differences between collaborative divorce and mediation:
Once you decide that Collaborative Divorce is right for you, the first step is for each party and their attorney to sign a Collaborative Law Agreement. This agreement serves as a contract which ensures that the lawyers will act solely as settlement counsel only. By serving as settlement counsel your lawyers are contractually barred from ever going to Court in your divorce case. However, if at some point either party decides it would be more beneficial for the Court to settle a particular matter, you can terminate the Agreement at any time. This helps give you ultimate control of how your case is handled and guarantees an outcome suitable for all parties. It is important to remember that if you or the other party chooses to take a contested matter to the Court both attorneys are fired instantly and can not represent you before the court. Because the purpose of Collaborative divorce is to settle matters amicably and civilly, choosing to take a matter to the court is highly discouraged and may be to the detriment of both parties. This feature of Collaborative Divorce also enhances the possibility of a mutually pleasing outcome and encourages attorneys and clients to work in everyone’s best interest.