What is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative Divorce allows for a divorcing couple or parties in other types of civil disputes to work as a team with specially trained professionals to resolve those disputes without going to court. In a Collaborative Divorce, the goal is to reach a mutually acceptable settlement of a dispute. The clients retain Collaborative Attorneys and other professionals (a Neutral Financial Professional; Mental Health Professionals, including Child Specialists) as needed, who agree to work in good faith to gather and share all information needed to reach an agreement. Each client has the support and guidance of his or her own attorney. Both sides and their Collaborative Attorneys agree that they will not go to court to ask a judge to resolve their dispute for them during the Collaborative Process. If they are unable to reach an agreement, and one of the clients decides to go to court, the Collaborative professionals will withdraw from the case. New attorneys and experts are hired to take the dispute to court.
What is the Philosophy of Collaborative Divorce?
Respect is a cornerstone of the Collaborative process. Nearly 50% of all marriages will end in divorce. However, the emotional devastation in losing a relationship doesn’t have to part of the divorce process. Collaborative Divorce is an alternative to “divorce as usual”. It is designed to minimize the hurt, the loss of self-esteem, and the anger and alienation that occur too frequently with divorce.
The Collaborative philosophy is built on divorcing with dignity and respect. Individuals may no longer be a couple, but they can still work together to craft a divorce settlement that is beneficial to both parties. Every part of Collaborative Divorce is intended to foster respect. When respect is given and received discussions become more productive and an agreement more easily reached.
Collaborative Divorce believes that the process of divorcing should not add to the pain of the end of the marriage but rather help the spouses and children foresee a hopeful future.
Who should consider the Collaborative approach for their dispute?
Collaborative Divorce works best for those clients wanting to settle their case without going to court. In Collaborative Divorce, the couple maintain control over their decisions versus letting a judge make decisions for you. The process also limits information that becomes a part of the public record (normally, the entire divorce or other legal file is open to the public, including any allegations made by either party in obtaining temporary orders or at trial.)
People often continue to have a relationship after the divorce is over as co-parents, business colleagues, or through their circle of friends and relatives. Collaborative Divorce improves the possibility for having a civil or even cordial relationship with your ex after the divorce is over.
You should also consider Collaborative Divorce if you wish to dramatically reduce your legal fees. A dispute that goes through the entire legal process including a trial can cost $50,000 and up for each party. The litigation process requires more attorney preparation time than in a Collaborative Divorce. The focus on settlement moves the case to resolution faster than the typical court-directed case which also can reduce your fees.
How does Collaborative Divorce Work?
Collaborative Divorce is unique in that it calls for both of you, your attorneys, and often other professionals, to meet together to discuss, negotiate and resolve the issues in your case. These meetings are conducted in an atmosphere of openness and honesty, all assets are disclosed, needs are communicated, and solutions are explored. When there are children, their interests are given foremost priority.
The Collaborative Divorce agreement has been reached by solving problems together. Nothing is final until you and your spouse agree that it is an acceptable solution. You, along with your attorneys and other chosen Collaborative professionals, take control of shaping the final agreement rather than having a settlement imposed on you by the court.
No party is required or forced to accept a solution that does not meet his or her interests and needs. The clients understand that the goal is to fashion a solution that comes as close as possible to a “win-win” agreement, while recognizing that they won’t receive everything on their “wish list.”
How well does it work to have everyone together in the same room?
It is the job of the Collaborative Professionals is to “set the tone” for each meeting. The Collaborative Professionals assist the clients in presenting their interests and needs in a positive way that will be heard by the other participants. Meeting together helps everyone to be “on the same page”, which ultimately facilitates reaching an agreement. The focus of the meetings is to find a solution, not attack each other.
How are issues regarding children addressed in Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative Divorce is designed to create a healthy co-parenting relationship so that the children’s interests and family relationships are protected. Divorce Coaches and Child Specialists can assist parents in developing effective communication and in creating a parenting agreement. The Collaborative Attorneys assist as needed in working out an agreement and preparing the necessary final legal documents.
What is the Collaborative attorney withdrawal requirement?
The Collaborative agreement signed by both the clients and Collaborative Attorneys commits to the fact that the Attorneys will not go to court. The focus of the process is on reaching an agreement rather than preparing to go the court since the Collaborative Attorneys will not be representing the clients in court.
“Going to court” can become a weapon or threat that derails communication rather than moving the clients closer to settlement. Since settlement has not been the focus from the very beginning, cases often do not settle until the clients are “at the courthouse steps” after incurring substantial attorney’s and expert fees and after depleting their emotional resources.