- November 5, 2022
File Under: Divorce
How to Prepare for Collaborative Divorce Sessions
If you’re in the midst of seeking to end your marriage, you can reduce the hassle and stress of going to court by opting for a collaborative divorce. The average time it takes for a collaborative divorce to settle is around 3 to 6 months, which is usually shorter than the timeline for a litigated divorce. After filing for a collaborative divorce, sessions will be held between both spouses to ensure that everything is divided equitably, which you should prepare for.
What Is a Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce is designed to provide couples with the means of settling every aspect of the process without needing to go to court. In most cases, negotiations are used to obtain an agreement between both spouses on aspects of a divorce like:
- Child custody and parenting time
- Child support
- Equitable distribution of assets and debts/li>
How Does a Collaborative Divorce Work?
This is a standard divorce process that typically begins when both parties have hired their own collaboratively trained attorneys. These attorneys will likely need to be experienced with mediation and negotiation. A litigation attorney who has only time making arguments in a courtroom may not be as effective in a collaborative divorce case.
Even though it’s possible for a collaborative divorce to come to an end without an agreement being made, both parties will sign a basic “no court” agreement, which directs each attorney to leave the case in the event that it goes to litigation. This is called a Participation Agreement. Before any joint sessions begin, clients typically meet with their attorneys to identify what they want from the process and what they are willing to compromise on. Identifying potential issues early on could lead to these problems being resolved before the collaborative divorce sessions begin.
Numerous joint sessions can take place during the collaborative divorce process. These are four-way meetings that involve both spouses and their attorneys. It’s also possible for other professionals to be brought in to provide assistance and advice about child custody or financial issues. These professionals are neutral to ensure that they aren’t biased in any way. However, each party can have their own present as well. Once all of the major concerns have been settled, a settlement agreement is signed between both parties.
Questions to Ask Before Agreeing to a Collaborative Process
There are several questions that you might want to ask before you agree to a collaborative process. Collaboration requires a certain level of cooperation, which is considerably more difficult when one lawyer is working hard to obtain concessions that only benefit their client.
You could also inquire about how comfortable the family law attorney is with working alongside other professionals while the divorce process is ongoing. The attorney should answer that they have had good experiences working alongside such professionals as divorce coaches, child specialists, and finance professionals. Attorneys often provide examples of past clients who have benefited from having access to specialized professionals on their divorce team.
You could ask the New Jersey family lawyer you’re thinking of hiring if they have received any training as a collaborative divorce attorney. For instance, it’s possible to become a member of the New Jersey Council of Collaborative Practice Groups. Membership in this type of group means that the lawyer you’re hiring likely has extensive experience and training when it comes to collaborative divorces. Once it is determined that it will be a collaborative case, you should ensure you hire a collaborative divorce attorney.
What to Do Before a Collaborative Divorce Session
Before a joint collaborative divorce session takes place, it’s common for a spouse to meet with their lawyers. This meeting typically occurs a couple of days before each joint session. The initial meetings usually last longer as a result of the lawyer’s client becoming more accustomed to the entire process. It’s possible for later meetings to only involve a short phone call. The goal is to make sure that everyone involved is prepared for the joint session between both spouses and their lawyers.
In many cases, homework occurs between each joint session to get ready for the next session. Make sure that you know the exact time when the session is meant to start so that you can arrive for sign in on time. Because joint sessions require many people to coordinate their schedules, people who are late to the session create issues for everyone involved.
What to Do During a Collaborative Divorce Sessions
Most of the work that takes place during a collaborative case occurs during joint sessions. These sessions are where both parties will have discussions about how to solve problems. The most effective collaborative divorces are usually ones where every party involved feels like they can express themselves.
It’s possible that one spouse believes that the amount of child support they need to pay is too high. By expressing these thoughts during the joint sessions, the issue can be addressed immediately to determine what outcome works for everyone involved. Each person will have different needs that will likely have to be taken into account for both parties to come to an agreement.
There are also times when the legalese surrounding this process can become difficult to understand while the session is ongoing. In this situation, many people choose to stay silent while trying to gain context for what was being said. The collaborative process could be more straightforward by asking for clarification on any issues or points that aren’t immediately clear. This may also be necessary to correct a misunderstanding or inaccuracy.
Once a collaborative divorce begins, there are rare times when it doesn’t work out, which means that litigation might be necessary. Many couples are able to avoid this issue by remaining calm during joint sessions. If someone believes they were disrespected during the session, these negative feelings could linger, which may result in the entire process falling apart. When either party says things that assign fault, it’s more likely that the discussion won’t go forward since the other spouse might become defensive. The goal is to reach a resolution, and that should be everyone’s focus.
Why You Should Hire Our New Jersey Divorce Lawyer
It’s rarely an easy decision to file for a divorce. Along with the difficult emotions that many face during this process, there are also numerous aspects of the divorce that need to be settled between both parties. This process is either handled in court or collaboratively through negotiations or through mediation. If you believe that a collaborative divorce is right for you and your spouse, consider calling our New Jersey family lawyer.
Once you contact us, you can schedule your first consultation to ask any questions you might have and start developing a strategy for your divorce. Taking the collaborative approach makes it possible to avoid the stress and fighting that tends to occur with litigation. Many divorcing couples who have children seek collaborative divorces to increase the likelihood that they remain amicable with one another during the divorce and afterwards.
While issues will still arise during the collaborative divorce process, these issues may be addressed with our help. Other professionals may also be brought in at different intervals at the collaborative divorce process. These professionals include everyone from financial experts to custody professionals.
If you feel that it’s time for you to file for a divorce, a collaborative divorce may be the way to go. Regardless of the type of divorce you choose to seek, our lawyers can represent your case during mediation, negotiations, or litigation. Call our New Jersey divorce lawyers today at (908) 645-1000 to schedule your initial consultation.