Collaborative Divorce

Last week we began a series discussing different methods of resolving the dissolution of marriage. First we discussed mediation, now we are going to look into the collaborative divorce process.

During a collaborative divorce process both you and your spouse hire an experienced Collaborative Lawyer. Collaborative divorce occurs when a couple agrees to work out a divorce settlement without going to court.

The role of the attorneys in a collaborative divorce is quite different than in a traditional divorce in that the divorcing couple and the attorneys together make a commitment in writing to never go to court. In fact, in the collaborative process the attorneys all sign a formal agreement that requires that both attorneys withdraw from the case if the collaborative process breaks down and litigation commences.

If this happens, both you and your spouse must start all over again and find new attorneys. Neither party can use the same attorneys.

The collaborative process is becoming more and more attractive to educated couples that are seeking to control the outcome of their divorce without the added stresses, both financial and emotional, of litigation.

In this process, the attorneys advise and assist their clients in negotiating a Matrimonial Settlement Agreement. You will have the opportunity to meet with your attorney individually and you and your attorney will also meet with your spouse and their attorney. The collaborative process may also involve other neutral professionals such as a divorce financial planner who will help both of you work through your financial issues and a coach or therapist who can help guide both of you through child custody and other emotionally charged issues.

The benefits to this process include the fact that you control the pace at which your divorce proceeds and you and your spouse set respective goals with your attorneys that become the focus of the meetings.

Even if the collaborative process is successful, you will usually have to appear in family court so a judge can sign the Judgment incorporating the agreement. The same is true for mediation. But the legal process can be much quicker and less expensive than traditional litigation if the collaborative process works.

There are potentially significant benefits to a divorce involving mediation and/or the collaborative process.
These can include:

  1. A better long-term relationship with your ex-spouse.
  2. Less stress on your children.
  3. A shorter process to come to terms of an Agreement.
  4. A reduction in expense of the divorce; control of the process and outcome.

For collaborative law and/or mediation to be successful there has to be full and complete disclosure. So if you have an inherent distrust as to the honesty of your spouse, these processes can have their limitations. If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets/income you need to discuss this with your attorney before determining which process to select.

If your spouse is domineering, and you have trouble speaking up or you're afraid to voice your opinions you will want to be represented in negotiations.

Also, if there is a history or threat of domestic violence (physical and/or mental) towards you and/or your children, mediation and/or the collaborative process may not be a viable option and is not recommended.

Contact us if you are interested in the collaborative divorce process for dissolving your marriage.

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