What is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce is a relatively new, multi-disciplinary response to the traditional adversarial marital dissolution method. The process emphasises negotiation and working together to minimize conflict, while giving the divorcing couple a way to resolve their differences on all relevant issues. The collaborative process is designed to separate you and your spouse respectfully and preserve families.
Collaborative attorneys have been trained to effectively work with couples that have significant emotions and considerable conflict. As with the traditional adversarial divorce, you and your spouse each hire an attorney. However, in a collaborative divorce each party hires a collaborative divorce trained attorney who advises and assists you in negotiating a settlement agreement.
You each meet with your own attorney and then the four of you meet together on a regular basis. A collaborative divorce may also use other professionals, such as financial advisors and child custody specialists. However, these other professionals are neutral, rather than each party hiring their own expert. Thus, reducing the costs.
In order to assure that everyone has a vested interest in the process, usually an agreement is signed that requires the attorneys and other professionals involved in the case to withdraw from the case if a settlement of the case is not reached and the case goes to court.
If an agreement is reached during the collaborative process there will be minimum contact with a family court judge so he can sign the agreement and declare the marriage dissolved. However, the contact would be brief and minimal because at that point the dissolution would be considered uncontested and that does not require litigious hearings and ongoing disclosures.
Collaboration can reduce the cost of divorce and conflict in numerous ways. Since the exchange of necessary information is voluntary, it can reduce costs of discovery which is customary during the more traditional adversarial way of litigation. It can stabilize the situation through a temporary agreement without court intervention. The parties can agree to procedures that simplify the process and cut down on expenses. A settlement can be agreed upon that works for both of you and that handles issues which may occur in the future.
Most importantly you can get through the divorce process with you dignity and your moral standards intact, while at the same time saving you money and time. Overall, a couple that chooses a collaborative divorce over a traditional litigated divorce usually spend less money, and come away with a feeling of empowerment rather than defeat.