The intent of a collaborative divorce is for couples to work together to come to solution rather than leave the decision-making up to the courts. It can be extremely effective in its goals should the participants be motivated to engage in the process.
The collaborative divorce process still requires structure. The professionals involved in the process are there to help reduce stress levels, to help the two spouses cope, to foster good communication, to reason through solutions, to assist in the creation of an effective parenting plan, and help in the family restructuring.
The process can fail if individuals do not abide by the ethical guidelines set down for collaborative divorces, however. Clients cannot withhold or falsify information. If clients wish to drive the results they do need to participate in the collaborative divorce process.
Complications can arise during the divorce negotiation process and that's why it's important to have experienced attorneys and professionals involved. Misunderstandings can arise and erroneous conclusions can be raised.
Still, collaboration can result even when there is disagreement concerning the goals. It also does not mean that one party or the other has to give up all of its power. Each party will have some specific concerns that they will wish to be addressed. Collaboration is different than the two spouses being in complete agreement. It is about getting results.
Attorneys and mediators are there to de-escalate disagreements that result in preventing the process from carrying forward. It's also still important that the attorneys do listen to their clients and be attentive to their wishes.
Source: Huffington Post, "The Consequence of Unenforced Ethical Guidelines for Collaborative Divorce," Mark Baer, April 7, 2014