Collaborative divorce is an option for divorce that does not involve litigation. It is a type of alternative dispute resolution that revolves around mutual agreement between a couple who wishes to end a marriage in a more peaceful way.
The process involves both parties each being represented by a collaborative divorce attorney, who will assist their clients through the collaborative process in order to reach the best possible outcome for all involved. The clients, together with their collaborative attorneys, form a team to work as a group on the issues that are of importance to each client. Often times, there is a need to add other collaborative professionals to the group such as neutral financial professionals to address asset division, or child specialists to assist with parenting plans. Each team member serves in an important role to help the clients through the process to establish and achieve their interests and reach an ultimate settlement. As a team, the group of professionals facilitate the clients in constructing the path forward.
There are many benefits to choosing the collaborative process. A collaborative divorce allows the parties to maintain control and management of the entire process, such as assembling the team of collaborative professionals, duration, the number of meetings, creation of parenting plans, division of assets, future living arrangements and many other issues which are personal and unique to the family. It promotes a peaceful and reasonable approach to problem solving and can be extremely effective in preserving the family's mental well-being as they proceed through the difficulties of divorce. Unlike traditional litigation, which is managed by the court, collaborative divorce is interest-based negotiation, and the divorcing couple, together with their families, lead their own divorce process with the help and support of their collaborative professional team. A distinguishing feature of collaborative process is that each client has the freedom and flexibility to raise concerns that may not be addressable within the limiting constraints of a court setting.
Cost is another key advantage when choosing the collaborative divorce process. Collaborative divorce can be exponentially less expensive to the parties than traditional litigation. This is due in part to the differences in the nature and volume of the work that is done, how the process is managed and controlled by the clients, and the working dynamic between clients and their collaborative professional team. For example, a basic framework for collaborative process involves assembling a team, establishing the initial process agreement, identifying the key interests of each client, sharing information, working with financial and child specialists, and ultimately reaching a conclusion that best satisfies each client's interests. In litigation, the process is driven by the court rules and procedures, and each side adopts an adversarial approach, functioning with the spirit of a typical lawsuit, where fighting, resistance and dispute is the primary language of the process. Because litigation is concerned with taking up opposing positions and fighting it out using the court to determine the "winner" of the various issues in dispute, there can be many disadvantages to the family, which range from emotional stress and anxiety for the parties, a lengthy and drawn out process, draining financial resources, extensive work for attorneys resulting in higher than necessary legal fees, psychological damage to children and overall unhealthy erosion of relationships into the future.
Collaborative divorce is a communication and interest-based communicative process, promoting fairness, and allowing for each spouse to highlight their most important issues. It is less expensive that traditional divorce litigation and maintains utmost privacy throughout the process. It is a kinder option and helps the family to minimize the damage that divorce often imposes on both spouses and children.
Learn more about the collaborative divorce process HERE and find out if this is the right solution to help restructure your family.