In the past, if you wanted to get a divorce, you usually had to go through one of two different processes. You, your almost ex-spouse, and your respective attorneys will meet and go through mediation or go through litigation. Unfortunately, with both of these processes, one person usually feels like they come out on the losing end of the deal. In a collaborative divorce, and you will not have to do either of these. When you both agree to collaborate, your divorce really can be a win-win situation.
What Is a Collaborative Divorce?
A collaborative divorce is one of the newest forms of dispute resolution being used in family law. When both parties agree to collaborate, your respective attorneys will assist you in employing cooperative techniques to reach your desired outcomes. This allows you to remain in control of the process and not leave the outcome or decisions up to a judge.
How Does the Process Work?
If you feel that a collaborative divorce is something that you and your spouse can collaborate and work out your issues, then no litigation will take place during this time.
To begin the process, both you and your soon-to-be ex will each hire your own attorney. When shopping for a divorce attorney, you will want to hire one who is a great negotiator, and who understands and is supportive of the negotiation process.
You each meet with your individual attorneys, and both you and your attorneys sign a Participation Agreement. The agreement serves as:
- A notice of your intent to resolve your differences in this manner
- A commitment to focus on the well-being of the whole family with honesty, integrity, and cooperation
- A pledge that no litigation will take place during the proceedings
- An understanding of the role of both attorneys
- A notice that if an agreement is not produced, that neither attorney can represent the client in the future
- A pledge of full disclosure throughout the process
Once the participation agreement is entered into, both of you will meet with your individual attorneys. In this meeting you will discuss exactly what you want, what your bottom line is, as well as what you consider as non-negotiable.
Once those meetings have concluded, a series of four-way meetings will take place. These are informal meetings where ideally both of you, as well as your respective attorneys will be able to sit down and discuss the unresolved issues in your case.
In some cases, due to how emotionally charged these proceedings can be, the meeting may have to take place without one of the spouses being present in the same room. Although they may not be present, both of you should be available either by phone, or in another room for the purposes of consultation.
Other neutral professionals, such as accountants, child custody specialists, or others may be invited into these meetings to help you come up with some of your compromises. If you are having real difficulties resolving your issues, the four of you may agree to hire a professional mediator.
Once a settlement has been reached, the legal documents will be drafted by your attorneys and filed with the court. Because of the process, you have gone through, this will be a simple, uncontested process.
Will it Work for You?
A collaborative divorce is not for everyone. It will only work if you and your spouse are willing to lay your strong emotions aside and really focus on what is really best for your family. You have to create an effective working relationship with your spouse and be willing to make joint decisions. If every time your spouse says up, you say down out of spite, it is probably not going to work.
You have to be willing to go into the process open-minded and mutually respectful. You have to be willing to focus on the future of your family and not on the past. Collaborative divorce is a team concept, and you have to be willing to be a team player.
Talk to law firms like Hart Law Offices, PC to learn more about the process.