What is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative law is a process that resolves disputes without litigation. Both parties retain separate attorneys whose job it is to help them settle the dispute. If a party decides to go to court, the collaborative law process terminates and both attorneys are disqualified from any further involvement in the case.
What is the collaborative divorce process?
Each party and their attorneys agree in advance that they will work together in a cooperative, good faith effort, to resolve issues without resorting to litigation in the courts. They agree that they will provide full, honest, and open disclosure of all information relevant to the proceedings. Additionally, everyone must agree that their attorney’s representation is limited to the collaborative divorce process, and that neither of the attorneys can represent them in a court proceeding against the other spouse.
What are some reasons to choose a collaborative divorce?
- Through a civilized resolution of issues spouses maintain mutual respect for one another.
- Avoid the financial and emotional expense of protracted litigation.
- More control over the process.
- More opportunities to craft results that meet both of your needs.
- Focus on being co-parents to your children instead of being adversarial spouses.
- You can remain connected to friends and extended family that you both have in common.
- If an expert is needed you can add them to your team and avoid having dueling experts.
- Details of your personal affairs and problems don’t become part of the public court record.
What are some reasons not to choose a collaborative divorce?
In cases where there is a history of domestic violence, it is unlikely that the abusive spouse will be able discuss settlement terms without resorting to violence and/or manipulation, and the victim of abuse may feel threatened or manipulated if they do not agree to the abusive spouse’s terms.
Trust is a key element of collaborative divorce. If you cannot trust that your spouse will fully disclose their assets and liabilities and doubt that they will be honest during the process, you will be unlikely to reach an agreement.
Oftentimes, there are legitimate differences of opinion for things such as business valuations. If you disagree with your mutual expert, then you must breach the collaborative divorce contract and start the process anew in court. In some cases, retaining an expert for each of you is not a bad thing and may disclose honest, but for you potentially costly, mistakes in one expert’s opinion.
Ms. Hess is a Collaborative Divorce attorney and a member of the Collaborative Divorce Association.