What Is Collaborative Divorce and How Does it Work?
Divorces are difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. When there is some level of agreement, but some areas of divorce are disputed, such as custody or child support, the process can become overwhelming and contentious. Fortunately, through a collaborative divorce, which originated in Minnesota, couples can have assistance taking on this challenging time in their lives and use a team approach to help them meet their goals. When it comes to divorce, couples usually have numerous questions and concerns about this process, including issues regarding timing and how fast the divorce process will take to resolve. However, these queries may also dive much deeper than that and go into a couple’s options when it comes to ending their marriage.
That is why two of the most frequently asked questions clients want answers to when they meet with a divorce attorney include: what is collaborative divorce? And what are the benefits of collaborative divorce? A collaborative divorce is a legal divorce process that allows a couple to negotiate the terms of a divorce without taking their fight to court. In fact, this process is known to be a cooperative and completely private approach to helping families and couples make decisions on critical terms, like debt division, child custody and child support, alimony, and property division issues. Typically, because the collaborative divorce process uses a combination of mediation and negotiation to reach an agreement, there are three goals that this method tries to meet:
- Resolve issues more efficiently than through litigation
- Manage costs and expenses by using resources that can help a couple reach their objectives faster and more efficiently, and
- Reach an optimal result that the couple agrees on
What Are the Benefits of a Collaborative Divorce?
Although one of the most significant benefits of a collaborative divorce is resolving divorce issues without the need for litigation, there are, in fact, numerous benefits that come with using the collaborative divorce process. For instance, this process can:
- Save you money and time.
- Provide you with the ability to negotiate in a free, open, and informal environment that allows for an honest exchange of information.
- Allow you to go after a result that works best for you and your family and figure out how to handle post-settlement disputes, especially regarding property division, child custody issues, and alimony.
- Provide you with more flexibility and help accommodate each party’s schedule.
- Help preserve the dignity of the couple.
- Ensure that the couple’s privacy is protected.
- Provide you with the legal, financial, and emotional support you need to get through all the aspects of your divorce.
- Reduce the stress and animosity that so often accompany divorce and allow you to end your marriage and transition into a new life respectfully.
What’s the Process For a Collaborative Divorce
When it comes to the collaborative divorce model, there are a few basic steps that individuals need to follow. Below, we will break down each of these steps and provide you with a better understanding of how the process works and what your specific role in this process will be:
- Hire an Attorney: You and your spouse will both have to choose an attorney to help you with this collaborative process. It is essential to hire a lawyer who supports mediation, is trained to take on these types of cases, and is prepared to help you negotiate the results you want.
- Sign an Agreement: Both parties will have to sign an agreement that will lay out the ground rules for this process and direct both attorneys to withdraw from the case if the case heads to litigation.
- Meet with Your Attorney: You will meet privately with your attorney, without your spouse or their attorney being present. During this stage, you will let your attorney know precisely what you want from this process, the major issues you want to be resolved, and your limits when it comes to the negotiations.
- Meet with the Other Side: You and your lawyer will meet with your spouse and their attorney in a “four-way” meeting to discuss the issues you want to be settled. These meetings will likely occur on a regular basis and may even include experts, such as financial experts, child specialists, and coaches, who can act as a neutral third party to help you settle your case outside of the courtroom.
- Voluntarily Provide Information: During this process, you will have to voluntarily provide your spouse and their attorney with any information necessary to continue negotiations, including your tax returns, employment, and salary information, and any other details regarding your assets and debts.
- Contact the Court: After you come to an agreement about the terms of your divorce, the attorneys will draft a settlement agreement for both parties to sign. However, do not sign this document unless you agree to each of the divorce terms. Once the agreement is finalized and submitted to the court, the judge will sign it, and it will become your final judgment of divorce.
Although this collaborative divorce process is a popular way to come to an agreement about the divorce, it is not suitable for everyone. For instance, if you and your partner have a history of domestic violence or are unable to communicate properly, a collaborative divorce may not be the best option. For these reasons, before you make any decisions about your divorce, it may be in your best interest to reach out to a collaborative divorce lawyer who can walk you through this process, help you understand the methods of a collaborative divorce, and work with you to figure out if this is the best step for you.
Begin Your Collaborative Divorce
The divorce process is never easy. However, taking this process to the courtroom can not only hurt feelings and make co-parenting harder, but the whole affair can make for a long and tedious journey. Thankfully, this is not your only option when it comes to divorce. Through the collaborative divorce process, you can focus on conflict resolution and a settlement that will not only help you stay in control of the situation but resolve your issues with respect, privacy, and dignity.
That is why if you are thinking about filing for divorce, or want to discuss your child custody, property division, or alimony issues, do not wait to get the legal help you need. Instead, contact an experienced and certified collaborative divorce attorney today for a free consultation and let our legal team help you begin the divorce process in the way that is best for you and your family.