The biggest difference between a traditional and collaborative divorce begins with the fact that in a traditional divorce, the parties rely heavily on the judges and the court to bring a resolution to their dispute. This often fosters an adversarial environment where the couples look at the process as a battle they are determined to win. Their lawyers often take a similar viewpoint. This kind of atmosphere can make for a long and drawn out conflict that can last a year or more and exact an enormous financial and emotional toll on the spouses and their family.

By contrast, a collaborative divorce by its very nature is non-adversarial. The collaborative process is set up with the intent of both parties resolving their disputes in a respectful and creative manner. The attorneys involved agree ahead of time not to pursue litigation, and other professionals are often involved to help with certain areas of the settlement like finances and co-parenting agreements. The end result is normally a much more cordial long-term relationship in which often times the spouses can remain friends and maintain a good relationship long after the divorce is final.