Divorce is difficult for all parties. Collaborative divorce removes the red tape surrounding the dissolution of a marriage by coming to an agreement outside of the courtroom. Attorneys, financial neutrals, and mental health professionals trained in the collaborative process work with the family to reach an agreement that is beneficial to all parties, including children.
Collaborative divorce reduces conflict among the family as well as avoiding the emotional and economic strain of litigation. This process is client-driven rather than attorney driven. Every member of the collaborative divorce team has one goal – to resolve disagreements by using proven problem-solving techniques.
The Creation of Collaborative Divorce
Collaborative divorce was created in Minnesota in 1990 by Stuart Webb, a family lawyer. In Minnesota, the Collaborative Law Institute was formed, and the process has spread all over the world. This approach was developed to help minimize the damage to families during a dissolution of a marriage. If not properly handled, traditional litigation can lead to serious damage to family relationships. This alternative approach strives for better outcomes for all parties.
The collaborative process, like most alternative dispute resolution, is voluntary. At the beginning of the process, each party makes a commitment to not go to court. A series of meetings are scheduled with the goal of reaching an amicable settlement. This family-friendly approach is client-centered and is individualized based on the needs of each family.
Steps Involved in Collaborative Divorce
In the beginning, both parties, along with their attorneys, will sign a Participation Agreement, which indicates the parties are committed to resolving all differences outside of the courtroom. The parties agree to fully disclose all financial information and any other pertinent information to reach an amicable agreement on the dissolution of the marriage.
The parties also set goals for the process, such as remaining respectful throughout the process or finding a way that one spouse can keep the family home.
Joint meetings will be used to work towards an agreement. During a joint meeting, the attorneys, financial neutrals, mental health professionals, and any other necessary professionals will meet with the couple to address issues and work towards an agreement. All issues, needs, and concerns will be given full consideration by the members of the team.
When the couple is able to resolve their issues using a collaborative process, a final decree is provided for the court, just like in a court-based process. Each spouse is represented by their collaborative-trained legal counsel and the judge approves the divorce decree without a court hearing.
Collaborative divorce professionals are trained to deal with emotions surrounding divorce and will ask questions to ensure that the conversation remains focused on a workable and mutually acceptable outcome. If a problem arises during the proceedings, the collaborative attorneys and professionals are committed to finding a solution.
The Cost of Collaborative Divorce versus Conventional Divorce
Attorneys in a conventional divorce spend hours preparing documents for the court. These hours are billed to the client. Multiple hearings, depositions, and expert witnesses, as well as meetings for alternative dispute resolution which may not feel productive, increase the cost of conventional divorce.
In a collaborative divorce, the team works hard to minimize conflict between the parties, which often results in more productive and quicker settlement meetings. The fees spent on other collaborative divorce specialists, including a neutral financial professional and a mental health professional are cost-effective.
For example, a financial neutral will gather financial documents such as bank statements and pay stubs from the parties and then provides them to both attorneys, instead of both attorneys doing this tedious leg work, often charging much more than the financial neutral.
The collaborative professionals will use their specific expertise to help the couple complete a parenting plan, a relationship plan, and a financial plan. These plans will then be incorporated into legal documents, resulting in a tailor-made agreement that benefits all parties.
Advantages of Collaborative Divorce
- Both parties have more control over the divorce process and outcome.
- A team approach is used. Professionals, including child specialists and financial neutrals, help the parties make an informed decision.
- It is typically time-consuming because it is done outside of the court system. The parties do not need to wait for court dates or deal with a court’s calendar.
- Collaborative divorces typically result in more positive experiences for the process and the long-term. The couple works together to reach a decision rather than fighting it out in court, preserving a working relationship, especially important in a couple has children.
The Disadvantages of Collaborative Divorce
- Both parties must have a spirit of compromise. Relationships with a history of unequal power dynamics or violence are not appropriate for the collaborative process.
- If an agreement cannot be reached, the attorneys withdraw, meaning you would begin with new lawyers.
- Both parties must be committed to moving the process forward. If one party is resistant to the divorce and attempts to delay the process, it is difficult to move them forward.
- The parties cannot be forced to make an agreement, and decisions are not made for them if they are not able to make a decision.
Contact Perusse Nixon Today to Discuss Your Options
Collaborative divorce seeks to minimize the stress of divorce by fostering an environment for an amicable agreement. This alternative to traditional divorce is a cost-effective process without the wait for a court date.
Contact Attorney Jennifer Nixon today to discuss your situation.