What is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative Divorce is a carefully structured and designed process through which you and your spouse resolve all divorce issues focused on the unique circumstances of your family and children, if any, with the help of trained and experienced collaborative professionals, including attorneys and other professionals skilled in communication, finance and parenting; you and your spouse will resolve your issues using Interest-Based Negotiation. The “Interest-Based Negotiation Process” allows you and your spouse to reach agreements which are in line with your individual and joint interests and goals.
It’s Private and Confidential
When a marriage breaks down, most couples do not want to air their dirty laundry. Unlike the loss of privacy in a litigated divorce, in collaborative divorce, the process is private and confidential. The process is led by a team of collaborative professionals who conduct meetings in an office rather than a courtroom. Maintaining privacy and confidentiality protects your relationship with your spouse. Additionally, it helps avoid collateral damage to you and your spouse’s standing within your families, communities and the workplace.
It preserves the relationship between spouses
Litigation focuses on blame. Collaborative Divorce process focuses on protecting and enhancing the relationship between you and your spouse. If you have children, not further damaging the relationship between you and your spouse will benefit your children at present and in the future. It is hard to co-parent children when the co-parenting relationship no longer exists or is severely damaged. In the Collaborative Divorce process, you and your spouse will strive to share your children in a parenting plan designed to meet the unique needs of the restructured family. In short children are shared and not divided like property in a litigated divorce process.
It’s Divorce Couple- and Client-Centered
In Collaborative Divorce, you and your spouse will not leave your fates in the hands of a judge or a jury. With each of you having your own experienced Collaborative Divorce attorney, the settlement process will promote resolution in an atmosphere of respect, integrity, clarity of information and without the fear or threat of having to go to court. When couples reach agreements on their own and do not have outcomes dictated by third parties, those agreements are more likely to be honored. Adversarial scorched-earth litigation damages relationships. Collaborative Divorce preserves them.
It’s User Friendly
The Collaborative Divorce process involves a series of meetings. It operates within the framework of the family and work schedule of each party. In litigation the timetable is managed by the court without regard to the needs and demands of the divorcing couple’s family, life and work. Thus, in the Collaborative Divorce process issues are addressed at times when each couple is more likely to be able to deal with them effectively and without undue stress or factors beyond their control.
It’s Pocketbook Friendly
Compared to adversarial litigated divorce, Collaborative Divorce is more cost-effective and efficient. With the use of a joint neutral mental health, communication or parenting professional, you and your spouse can work outside of joint meetings to develop parenting plans that meet your needs and that of your children. In working with a joint neutral financial professional, you and your spouse can work to inventory separate and community property, gather information as to property and debts, generate options to divide the property and evaluate the merits of each option. A Collaborative Divorce often is completed in six months. Adversarial divorce can take a year or more to complete.
It’s Focused on Problem-Solving and Settlement
The Collaborative Divorce process is a settlement process. The energy and time devoted by you and your spouse is focused 100% on being prepared to negotiate an outcome that works for you both. The litigated divorce process is focused on being prepared for trial. In litigated divorce, settlement occurs in about 96% of the cases. However, settlement occurs most often at the end of the litigation process through mediation and immediately before trial. By then, the couple has been engaged in repeated hearings, discovery involving interrogatories and requests for documents, possibly depositions and a temporary hearing. Agendas are created for each Collaborative Divorce meeting so that you each can work efficiently to resolve your differences and minimize wasted time, effort or money.
The Process is Your and Your Spouse’s
You and your spouse are in complete control of the Collaborative Divorce process. No agreement will be reached without both of you being satisfied with the results. The goal of the collaborative team is to give each of you the best chance for the best outcome in a time of personal crises. The collaborative professionals are guardians of the process. They are there to ensure that the process works for you, while each of you are working for the process. The attorneys stand behind and support each of you and allow you, after being prepared, to speak for yourselves. The attorneys are not warriors. They are peacemakers. Oftentimes in litigation, the adversarial nature of the conflict prevents your own voice from being heard.