Like other alternative dispute resolution methods, the parties in a collaborative divorce work toward an equitable agreement outside of the courtroom. However, a distinguishing feature of the collaborative divorce process is the agreement to collaborate, also known as a contract.
Requirement to mediate first
The agreement can also specify that before any party can terminate the collaborative process, the parties must attempt to mediate when negotiation begins to break down or the parties reach an impasse. One benefit of the collaborative process is that the parties control the pace of negotiations.
Once a party decides to take the case to court, the collaborative process is terminated. The critical component of a collaborative contract is the requirement that each side will hire a new attorney to represent them going to court in the matter. This requirement provides the spouses with incentive to work through disagreements in their meetings.
Usually the contract will also specify how and when a spouse should provide notice to their attorney and the other spouse that they are leaving the collaborative process. The contracts specifies that if the process has ended, the attorneys for each side must withdraw their representation.
The prospect of finding new representation, especially at a later stage of negotiations, is daunting. The couple will need to start over again with new attorneys. In that way, the no-court agreement incentivizes the parties to not give up, work together and push through contentious issues to find common ground.
Learn about the collaborative divorce process in California
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