What is Collaborative Divorce?
A collaborative divorce is an uncontested divorce in which a couple decides to work out a divorce settlement without going to court. They agree to each retain attorneys, to jointly retain other professionals (a financial expert, mental health professional, etc.), to disclose all financial information, and to work toward an agreement on all matters, including asset division, spousal support, and child custody.
Each party meets with their attorney, they meet collectively with the professional team, and they discuss settlement collectively. The attorneys’ assistance is different from legal representation in a traditional divorce where each party’s attorney attempts to get the best settlement for their own client. In a collaborative divorce, attorneys are settlement specialists rather than litigators they work with their clients and the other professionals during the process to help the parties reach an agreement without litigation.
Although the final agreement reached in the collaborative process must be approved by the court, the agreement is customized to the couple and their family. It is generally very differnt than one the court would have been able to craft. Because contact with the court is limited, couples also maintain a greater level of privacy during the divorce.
Why is Collaborative Divorce Beneficial?
- You have more control. In a collaborative divorce, the spouses are the primary adjudicators of their divorce, not a judge. Although your attorneys help you negotiate a settlement, you communicate directly with one another.
- It is more efficient. The spouses each retain an attorney, but they are neutral attorneys who agree to work with each other and the spouses to forge a divorce agreement. The attorneys also agree to add other collaborative professionals to the team, all of whom are neutral. These might include financial planners and child therapists who work for both parties.
- It can take less time. The collaborative divorce can take less time than a traditional divorce because everyone is working toward the same goal of a settlement rather than litigation. And, the parties do not have to wait for court dates.
- You get professional assistance throughout the process. Although the couple is working jointly and communicating throughout the collaborative process, their attorneys are guiding them with the assistance of other neutral collaborative professionals.
When is Collaborative Divorce a Good Option?
Collaborative divorce isn’t for every couple. For example, those with an unequal power dynamic, couples who won’t communicate with one another, or those who don’t trust one another to truthfully disclose assets. It is a good option for couples when:
- Both parties are respectful to one another
- Both parents want to protect the children and put the children’s best interests before their own
- Both parties want to keep details of their divorce out of a courtroom
- Both parties share power in their relationship with neither party controlling or abusing the other
- Both parties see the benefit of working with collaborative specialists
Why You Need an Attorney
While collaborative divorce is less adversarial than a traditional divorce or mediation, couples need to have the guidance of attorneys to ensure they understand the legal issues involved. In a collaborative divorce, you’re in control, but you shouldn’t try it on your own.
Whether you are considering divorce or are in the process of getting one, let us help you explore the option of collaborative divorce. It might be the best way to end your marriage and begin the rest of your life.