The divorce process is traditionally seen as adversarial: one party versus the other in a seemingly never ending series of arguments over who keeps what assets. It can be traumatic for the separating couple and children, and if the process is drawn out, it can become expensive.
Divorce doesn’t have to be this way, however. Many divorcing couples are surprised to learn that a more congenial method of divorce exists which can lessen the adversarial nature of the process and make the process less lengthy and expensive. This post provides an overview of the collaborative divorce process.
What is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce is a form of alternative dispute resolution, which tries to utilize strategies like negotiation, mediation, and arbitration to avoid litigation and the court system. Collaborative divorce is voluntarily undertaken by separating couples, but in contrast to other forms of alternative dispute resolution, collaborative law attorneys represent their clients in negotiations, and there is no neutral third party mediating the negotiations. It is private and often involves the help of a team of individuals like financial planners and counselors to help couples separate in an amicable and equitable a way as possible.
How Does the Collaborative Divorce Process Work?
Collaborative divorce is similar to traditional divorce in that the separating parties have their own attorneys. However, prior to beginning in-person meetings, divorcing parties agree in advance that their lawyers cannot represent them in court or before another tribunal if the collaborative process does not result in a complete agreement, which serves as an incentive for all parties to come to a mutually agreeable outcome. With the assistance of attorneys, financial planners, counselors, and others, separating couples meet in face-to-face meetings, and work towards a mutually-agreeable settlement. Once a settlement has been arrived at, it is then turned into a contract and presented to a family court judge who finalizes the divorce as an uncontested matter.
What Are the Benefits of Collaborative Divorce?
Clients are more engaged in the collaborative divorce process than they are in a traditional divorce process. They share their goals throughout the process and are aided by a series of truly neutral parties in interacting with the partner they are separating from respectfully and productively. An ABA report on the collaborative divorce process showed that approximately three quarters of clients who used the collaborative divorce process were extremely or somewhat satisfied with the outcome. Importantly, the same report showed that clients’ highest level of satisfaction with the process came from the outcomes pertaining to their children, in terms of how the interests of their children were served and how the emotional well-being of their children was preserved by the process. Being an engaged and committed participant in your divorce can also lessen the length of time of the process, and decrease the intensity of emotions that accompany divorce.
Is Collaborative Divorce Right for You?
Divorce can be lengthy, discouraging, and traumatic, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are interested in learning more about the collaborative divorce process and whether it’s right for you, contact the experienced attorneys at Blair H. Chan III, PLLC. They have compassion, experience, and are ready to stand by your side as you prepare to navigate the divorce process.