Collaborative divorce is a hands-on approach that has gained popularity in recent years. The first step is finding an attorney who is trained/experienced with collaborative divorces. Each party must be represented by a collaborative law attorney. The parties will first meet separately with their attorney to gather and discuss pertinent background information. If the couple agrees to enter the collaborative process, then the parties will work with one another to assemble the collaborative team.
Depending on the number and complexity of issues that must be resolved, the negotiations may take place over multiple sessions. With the guidance of your attorneys and support of other professionals on the team, collaborative divorce allows you to have more control over the process and create solutions that work for both parties.
Could collaborative divorce work for me?
This depends on your unique circumstances and relationship with your spouse. If you have an extremely contentious relationship, there is a history of domestic abuse, or one party tends to intimidate the other, it is probably not a good route. However, if you and your spouse are on speaking terms and generally respectful of one another, it can be a great option.
Collaborative Agreement, Principles and Guidelines
At the outset, both spouses sign an agreement that has been drafted by their attorneys. This agreement specifies that the couple will make a good faith effort to negotiate an equitable divorce arrangement in a collaborative law setting, rather than litigate.
The agreement addresses the ramifications if one or both parties leave the collaborative process. Each side will need to hire a new attorney to represent them going to court in the matter. This requirement creates extra incentive for the couple to work through disagreements in their meetings as they tend to more invested in the process.
The parties also agree to voluntarily share information with each other, rather than go through the court discovery process. To facilitate free and voluntary sharing of information, the financial neutral assists the parties in completing their disclosures.
Benefits of collaborative divorce
Some advantages of the collaborative divorce approach include the following:
- Empowers the couple by giving them more control over the divorce;
- Greater input and control over the settlement that results from negotiations;
- Negotiations take place in an informal setting that is more comfortable than a court for most people;
- Attorney is by your side throughout the negotiations;
- Parties avoid lengthy and expensive court litigation process; and
- The collaborative process can proceed at the parties’ preferred pace. They do not need to wait months between court dates and hearings.