Couples who wish to steer clear of the courtroom for divorce litigation have the option of a collaborative divorce. Dissolving a marriage is one of the most difficult and emotionally stressful experiences in life, and this form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) can help to defuse some of the problems.
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Our goal is to make clients feel comfortable and at ease, knowing that we possess the skills required to achieve their goals and amicably negotiate a collaborative divorce settlement.
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What is a Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce is a process conducted outside the courtroom between the divorcing parties and their respective attorneys in four-way private sessions. With the use of cooperative methods, all of the issues surrounding divorce are resolved, including:
Division of marital property and debts
Any other divorce-related issues
The attorneys for the two parties assist their clients in resolving their differences and negotiating a settlement, in order to preclude litigation.
Unlike other forms of ADR, such as mediation, the key component of a collaborative divorce lies in the Participation Agreement that both parties and their attorneys must sign.
This contract states that if a settlement cannot be reached, the collaborative process will be concluded. Additionally, the attorneys for both parties must agree that should litigation ensue, new legal representation will be required before continuing.
Collaborative Divorce vs. Traditional Divorce
Between mediation and full adversarial litigation, collaborative practice offers a middle ground. Similarly to mediation, it is voluntary, whereas it differs by never being completed without representation.
Each party is fully advocated for by their own collaborative attorney, who are also held to the Participation Agreement, which commits them to reaching a settlement.
Collaborative law attorneys are often trained on fostering constructive communication between divorcing parties and in using non-adversarial methods to come to a mutually acceptable conclusion. The parties also cannot resort to the threat of costly court proceedings.
A traditional divorce case is court-centered, with legal rules and procedures governing the process. If spouses do not agree, then a judge makes final decisions regarding financial and parenting issues.
When choosing the collaborative divorce route, in addition to an attorney, the parties have the option of jointly utilizing divorce professionals or what’s called a collaborative team.
The team may include child specialists, financial advisors, and divorce coaches, who are hired to act as problem solvers.
While that may sound expensive, the collaborative process actually ends up being more efficient and cost-effective than traditional divorce litigation, because of the fact that each divorce professional has their own area of expertise.