Collaborative divorce is a different method for settling a divorce than traditional litigation. In a collaborative divorce, both clients and their attorneys commit at the outset to working in good faith to resolve all of their issues collaboratively. In fact, they all agree to not ask the court to make decisions in their case, and they back up that commitment by agreeing if they do seek court involvement, both attorneys will withdraw their representation.
Through a series of meetings between the attorney and her client, and with both attorneys and both clients, the parties work out agreements on division of assets, maintenance, parenting time, and child support. When necessary, the clients can include one or more neutral experts to help. Those experts can include a financial neutral to help the parties make sense of their financial options, a real estate expert to give an opinion on the value of real estate and on the current market for buying and selling a property, an appraiser to value a business or personal property, or a child specialist to make recommendations about parenting arrangements. There are no requirements to use experts, nor are there limits on the types of experts to include in the process. If your case involves complex issues in an area, you can get an expert to advise on those issues and nothing more.
But My Partner and I Don’t Agree – Is Collaborative Divorce Right For Us?
In the collaborative divorce process, the clients do not start the process agreeing on everything. They simply agree that they will collaborate to reach a settlement. Even when emotions between the clients are intense, the collaborative process can ease much of the strain and miscommunication of litigated divorces when parties are not negotiating agreements with each other directly.
The collaborative process creates a respectful environment to address emotions thoughtfully and in a manner that does not add fuel to the fire. Clients are supported in both speaking and listening to each other respectfully and in a non-adversarial manner, identifying what their interests are, and working positively to achieve them. The directness of communications in meetings and the fact that a client’s questions and concerns are voiced often reduces the level of mistrust, misunderstanding, and conflict parties may have been living with for weeks or months.
That Sounds Expensive!
It depends. Compared to a divorce that proceeds to a contested hearing, collaborative divorce is a more efficient use of financial resources. For example, you only hire the neutral professionals that are needed for your case.
Benefits of Collaborative Divorce
Children whose parents divorce collaboratively have better outcomes post-divorce, and it’s easy to see why. Parents work together to create a parenting plan in the children’s best interests that also works for both parents. The parents have a strong foundation of working together that will serve them well as co-parents. In contrast, parents who proceed to a contested hearing are left angry and exhausted, and often have difficulty shifting from the confrontational stance of litigation to the cooperative stance needed for successful co-parenting.
Contact us today to discuss whether collaborative divorce is right for you.