We’ve all gone through Kindergarten, right? From a young age, we have been taught to respect others and play nice. Oftentimes, we hear stories of adults, well, acting like children. These stories come far too often, especially when talking about the dreaded ‘d’ word, divorce! When it comes to two adults fighting it out tooth and nail in court, things can quickly spiral out of control. That is why there is an increased focus on settling your divorce in a rational way where all parties benefit. This can be accomplished through a Collaborative Divorce. Let’s dive in…
WHAT IS COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE?
Collaborative Divorce is an alternative to more traditional litigation in which both parties attempt to resolve matters related to their divorce, including child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. It is a formal process where both parties agree in writing to refrain from filing a lawsuit while they participate in a series of voluntary settlement discussions. Depending on the situation, it can involve participation and input from other third-party professionals, such as mental health counselors and financial planners.
Instead of an “every person for themselves” approach, lawyers who are participating in a Collaborative Divorce try to find common ground when it comes to the parties’ interests, issues, and needs. All parties, including the lawyers, work together to come up with creative solutions to their respective concerns. The attorneys who are trained in Collaborative Divorce try to ensure that both parties work toward solutions with integrity, honesty, and self-respect, and try to avoid the trauma and stress that is all too common with litigation. The ultimate goal is to resolve the case in a way that reduces or eliminates the stress and animosity that is common for a litigated case, which is particularly important if the parties have children and are trying to preserve a cordial relationship.
WHAT IS THE COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE PROCESS?
While the specific steps can be left up to the parties who are participating, the following gives an idea of what a typical Collaborative Divorce case might look like.
- Each party hires their own lawyer to represent them, each of whom should be trained in Collaborative Divorce.
- Before the parties meet with one another, an informal agreement is reached that both sides are willing to attempt to settle things through the Collaborative Divorce process.
- Each side will meet with their respective lawyer and will privately go over their needs and wants. They may choose to meet with a financial professional or another third-party expert who is going to be involved in the case.
- A Collaborative Divorce (written) agreement will be negotiated, which commits both sides to attempt to resolve matters through the collaborative process.
- The parties will jointly meet to finalize and formalize the written agreement and to potentially have initial discussions on the case.
- There will be a number of settlement conferences, in which all parties will attend, to discuss and negotiate the terms that will aid and benefit all parties involved. It is common to focus on one issue at a time, such as discussing custody first, although the parties are free to handle things in a different manner.
- Assuming a compromise can be reached, a settlement agreement will be drafted and signed.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE?
- Potentially saves money on legal fees
- Provides maximum flexibility for all parties involved
- Doesn’t takes place in court and is much less stressful
- Easier to work around parties’ work schedules or other commitments
- Allows for all parties to have a say in the solution
- Provides a greater chance that both parties will walk away feeling satisfied, instead of a “winner take all” approach
- Potential for keeping relationships healthy or even repairing bad ones, which can be quite useful when there are custody issues involved or if the parties desire to preserve some level of relationship
ARE THERE ANY NEGATIVES TO COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE?
In order for Collaborative Divorce to be successful, all parties involved must be fully invested in the process. If the settlement conferences don’t work and talks break down, then the collaborative process will end, both parties will have to hire new attorneys, and someone will likely file a lawsuit.
DO YOU PLAN ON GETTING A DIVORCE? CONTACT US!
If you are thinking about getting a divorce and want to try to do so through the Collaborative Divorce process, get in touch with one of our attorneys today at Hill Evans Jordan & Beatty. We make the process easy to understand and have the skills and temperament to help you with this process.