Is Collaborative Divorce Right For Me?
Few people realize that once they’ve made the difficult decision to file for divorce, there is another decision they need to make: which process of divorce to engage in – adversarial litigation, or Collaborative Divorce.
What Is A Collaborative Divorce?
A Collaborative Divorce is a voluntary out-of-court process that allows couples who are ending their marriage to determine the outcome in a safe, neutral and respectful environment. In a Collaborative Divorce, all decisions related to your divorce (including support and custody) are made jointly by the parties without resort to costly litigation and judicial decision-making.
The collaborative process employs a team approach to divorce. A typical team includes each parties’ attorney, a neutral financial expert, a coach and a therapist. All of these professionals have undergone collaborative training and are committed to the collaborative process. In fact, the attorneys are disqualified from continuing their representation if the collaborative process breaks down and the parties opt for litigation. This rule incentivizes the parties and their attorneys to resolve the case through the collaborative process.
What Are The Advantages Of A Collaborative Divorce?
Ending a marriage is usually an extremely difficult and sometimes devastating time for most people, and emotions run high. Feelings of anger, resentment, fear, and uncertainty are common. The collaborative team is well suited to address all of those issues and to guide the parties through the emotional storm to a safe landing. Judges, on the other hand, cannot delve into these issues, and instead will simply make rulings based on the letter of the law. In a Collaborative Divorce, you are the judge – except you get to make decisions based on the best interests of your children, you, and yes, your former spouse.
If you and your former spouse had children together, then being able to get along with each other throughout the dissolution process and beyond is extremely important to their well-being. Generally, children will handle divorce as well as their parents do. If their parents go to war with each, their children will suffer. That is why the Collaborative Divorce process is the best choice when the parties have minor children.
Unlike the litigation process, which unfolds in the public arena of a courtroom, a Collaborative Divorce is a private affair. Meetings are generally held in the office of one of the parties’ attorneys. Meetings with the financial neutral, where the presence of the attorneys is not required, occur in the neutral’s office. The same holds true for the coaches and the therapists. All communication between the parties and the team members, whether written (email, text, letter, etc.) or oral, is held in strict confidence.
Is It The Right Choice For Me?
The collaborative process requires a willingness on the part of both you and your spouse to be respectful of each other’s needs and feelings, along with a willingness to cooperate and compromise. The goal is to resolve all issues in a manner that leaves both parties feeling whole.
If you and your spouse are willing to work together outside of court, consult with an attorney to determine if a Collaborative Divorce may be the right choice for both of you.