A collaborative divorce is a process that some divorcing couples use to work through a divorce without going to court. Collaborative divorce saves money for both parties because the expense of going to court is avoided.
There are other benefits, including saving time, reducing stress for both parties, and fostering an environment where both parties can discuss their goals. It is helpful to learn from professionals who have experienced and helped to resolve disputes with many other couples.
Collaborative divorce works well for couples who agree on some important issues but need help from good child custody lawyers or other professionals in resolving other aspects of the settlement like child custody and/or support or division of property. Both parties must be willing to participate in the collaborate divorce process, or it is likely to fail.
Here’s how it works:
- You and your spouse each hires your own divorce lawyer. A good divorce lawyer will understand how mediation and negotiation are important to the collaborative divorce process.
- You meet privately with your own attorney to discuss your goals in the divorce process. Provide your child support lawyer with the parameters that you will accept; for instance, the “ideal” dollar figure you desire for child support and also the lowest figure you can possibly accept. The more informed your divorce attorney is in all matters of property division, child custody and support, the more effective he or she can be in negotiating on your behalf.
- When you and your lawyer are prepared, you will meet with your spouse and the spouse’s attorney. This meeting will be held in a less-formal setting than a courtroom, such as a conference room. You will likely meet a number of times during the course of the process.
- Other professionals (examples: an accountant or child custody expert) may be included in these meetings to help resolve particular issues. Although you and your spouse will be paying the fees of these professionals, they are expected to perform in a neutral way that does not bias the outcome.
- If the process becomes stalled, the attorneys may bring-in a licensed mediator to move it along. A mediator is very experienced in divorce cases, and may be a former judge, a specially trained attorney, or another professional trained in mediation. The mediator works toward reaching an agreement that both sides can accept, and he or she does not favor one party over the other.
- When you have reached an agreement on all issues, you will be able to file an uncontested divorce. Your attorney will guide you through the simple steps.
If both parties and their attorneys negotiate in good faith, a collaborative divorce is achieved, and time and money can be saved as compared to going to trial. Usually, your attorneys will also negotiate a process for settling any disputes after the divorce is final.
Contact Perna & Abracht for a complimentary consultation if you have more questions about collaborative divorce. We have decades of experience handling divorce cases of all types.