Collaborative divorce is a legal process of resolving disputes outside the courtroom, to help the spouses reach holistic and win-win settlements with the help of a collaborative law attorney.
Divorce can be mentally and physically exhausting-regardless of who initiated it. It is normal to feel angry, sad or confused. This is especially true when there are kids involved. But, it doesn’t have to be too stressful.
It can be done in private, without the ugly public record in litigated cases. You can focus on effectively communicating with each other to preserve your relationships (as co-parents, business partners, etc.) You can do this by hiring a collaborative divorce attorney.
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What is collaborative divorce?
Also known as collaborative law, this legal process allows spouses to end their marriage. The parties negotiate all the terms of their divorce without going through litigation. It is mediation and negotiation-based. Couples can resolve critical issues such as spousal and child support. They also decide on property division and child custody.
How does a collaborative process work?
Separating couples should have a conversation on the possibility of alternative dispute resolution. This is to ensure that both parties are willing to negotiate and collaborate.
Each of the spouses needs to hire a collaborative divorce attorney. They will sign a Participation Agreement that says that they will work together to settle the matter outside of court.
Your attorneys will prepare all the paperwork. Once a party accepts the settlement, the lawyers will file it with the court. The judge will review the settlement and sign the judgment. The process only takes around 4 to 6 months on average and it is typically a win-win settlement.
Without the threats of litigation, you have a good chance of achieving a more holistic and durable settlement.
Collaborative Divorce is Teamwork
You and your ex will work with your lawyers to resolve issues such as child custody. You will provide information on your finances. The emotional process of divorce will be discussed.
You can draw from the knowledge of experts. Depending on the issues at hand, the following professionals can help you address complex problems rationally and practically.
Hiring a coach is not necessary for some people. But many people are not able to manage the emotional roller-coaster aspect of getting unmarried. Therefore, hiring a divorce coach can help them effectively work with counsel. Divorce coaches create a supportive and non-judgmental environment during a very stressful period in life. These coaches can also work with both parties to refine their goals. This helps them get to what really matters.
Getting a divorce is not just about getting unmarried. Most of the time you are splitting up everything – like your house and money. Your family lawyers can divide your assets equitably. But, financial experts can also help the spouses see which of those assets could provide long-term income.
In a collaborative divorce, a child specialist helps spouses co-parent successfully down the line. During the divorce process, these specialists can also give the team a good sense of how the child is handling the divorce.
A collaborative divorce is a client-centred approach
It is not the judge that makes the final decisions but the parties to a collaborative divorce. You can voice your opinions, agree to settlements, and choose the schedules to discuss the divorce.
Agreements are a long-lasting and durable “win-win” for each spouse and their children. But the key is that the decisions must be made voluntarily together. This is done without the threats of being sued in court and exposing “dirty” secrets. You can work together to achieve all-inclusive and durable settlements.
Compared to court arbitration where the arbitrator has the final say—you have more control of the outcome in a collaborative divorce. You and your spouse are the centers of the divorce process. You decide the terms of your own agreement. This is done with the assistance of highly trained collaborative attorneys.
If the other party suggests terms that don’t make sense to you, just don’t agree to it. Wait until you get a favourable solution. In short—it is always a win-win agreement, or you wouldn’t have agreed. You can only reach a final agreement when both of you agree to all of its terms.
The collaborative process is not for everyone
If you and your spouse are willing to work together to get the best settlement, without going to a divorce court, the collaborative process may work for you. You may avoid mud-slinging in court, and save time and money. It helps you get the best settlement applicable to your situation.
But, collaboration may not work for those who are not willing to be transparent. You need to able to facilitate open communication to reach a settlement acceptable to both spouses.
Is it applicable to victims of domestic violence?
Even domestic violence cases still have a chance for a successful collaborative divorce. In fact, the collaborative process helps both parties address the issue. They can often discuss the possibility of treatment and rehabilitation. However, both lawyers should ensure that there will be no coercion or intimidation. It is impossible to achieve collaborative resolution when the collaborative team members do not feel safe.
Questions spouses should answer before going through a collaborative process
- Are you willing to negotiate?
- Can you potentially work together?
If your answer is, “yes” to both questions, it is likely that both of you will walk away from the process feeling satisfied with the results. With collaborative divorce, both of you will retain the power to decide how you want to proceed with the essential divorce issues without court intervention.
Collaborative divorce allows you to discuss issues and arrive at an agreement with your best interest in mind, on your own. This approach can be especially helpful with debt and property division. It also works well for child custody because of their personal knowledge of their child. A judge does not know your child well at all.
Hire a collaborative divorce attorney if you need assistance with family law issues. Some of our divorce lawyers might be able to provide representation and guidance throughout the collaborative process. A collaborative divorce attorney can help you resolve divorce issues. They can guide you in choosing marriage dissolution options under the law.
Author: Alistair Vigier is the CEO of ClearWay Law
The video below is from Arizona, but it is still helpful regardless of where you are.