top of page

The History of Collaborative Divorce

In 1990, senior Minneapolis divorce lawyer Stu Webb was ready to quit. After practicing law for 26 years, he was exhausted from the conflict in court-based divorce. "It wasn't so much fun practicing law in an adversarial way," he recalls. "I hated my litigation practice." 

Then he had an idea. Since he planned to quit, why not quit "outrageously"? Why not try something different from the conflict-based divorce that was such a struggle for him and his clients?

He came up with this simple idea: he and another lawyer would work toward a settlement with a divorcing couple who agreed not to go to court. 

Stu Webb's idea worked, and he continued to experiment with out-of-court settlements. He began to share information with small groups of like-minded lawyers across the country. His simple yet radical idea eventually grew into what is now called Collaborative Divorce.

At first, Collaborative Law involved only lawyers. Then, in the mid-1990s in San Francisco, the interdisciplinary model took root. Mental health professionals started to team up with non-litigious lawyers and support families as Divorce Coaches and Child Specialists. Psychologists Peggy Thompson and Rodney Nurse, and social worker Nancy Ross were at the forefront of this new development. Soon after, Financial Specialists joined Collaborative Practice teams. 

For decades, everybody knew there had to be a better way to separate and divorce than using the courts. Today, the no-court process of Collaborative Divorce is practiced in 23 countries worldwide, helping families transition with fairness and dignity.

bottom of page