- June 18, 2021
File Under: Collaborative Law
How Collaborative Divorce Works and Why You Should Consider It
Statistics have revealed that approximately 90% of collaborative divorces end with a positive resolution. The process works, and estranged spouses should give full consideration to this as an option in their divorce. Here is what happens in a collaborative divorce and how it can lead to an agreement in a more amicable and mutually beneficial fashion.
It Can Keep You Out of Court
The parties in a divorce have every incentive to avoid a court hearing. As a divorce attorney will tell you, trials can be very expensive and may permanently rupture the relationship between the couple. However, the two sides may not be able to resolve all the issues on their own, and they may not want to without a thorough negotiation. Collaborative divorce is a way for the two estranged spouses to resolve their case peacefully without the need for a bitter trial.
The Parties Must Be Willing to Talk Instead of Litigate
It takes the willingness of both parties as a prerequisite for a collaborative divorce. They need to make a commitment to work through any differences in a civil and productive manner. This does not mean that one or both parties need to surrender their legal rights. It just means that they will talk about the issues and generally try to avoid court. Each person needs to put aside personal issues in their commitment to resolve the matter without legal dispute.
First, each person must decide if the collaborative divorce process is right for them. While this can benefit most situations, it may not be the best option if there is an extremely contentious relationship between the spouses. Everyone must ask themselves if there is a possibility that the case can be settled without court. Some divorces are bound to end up in court no matter what. However, one should give full consideration to whether this can work because it has definite benefits.
The Key Part Is a No-Court Pledge
Of course, as is the case with mediation and other methods of alternative dispute resolution as well, the collaborative divorce process is not always successful. While this does not preclude the estranged couple from proceeding with their divorce in front of a judge, their respective collaborative law attorneys are not allowed to continue to represent them in that type of litigation. Each of the parties would need to get new divorce attorneys, and that can sometimes be difficult. Of course, it would add to the expense as well, since the new attorneys would have to take some time to get themselves up to speed with the facts of their respective clients’ situations.
As a result, this can be a stimulus to having the parties continue to work together to reach a divorce agreement. This does the following:
- Saves time and money
- Reduces stress
- Leaves a better relationship, which is especially important when there are children involved
- Allows each person the freedom to negotiate
How a Collaborative Divorce Begins
A collaborative divorce will usually begin with conversation between the estranged spouses or their family law attorneys. One may try to feel out how the other views the divorce and whether they are interested in working toward a settlement. They could have the conversation before or after they hire an attorney, but it is always best to be represented by a divorce lawyer during the process. This will protect your legal interests in the ultimate settlement agreement.
The collaborative divorce process will involve some form of conversation and negotiation between the spouses throughout each step. It also requires everyone to sign a participation agreement, which is a contract that sets out the parties’ rights and responsibilities. They can choose whether they want outside help and how much they need. At first, many people may want to exchange proposals without other parties involved. They can at least get an idea of the other spouse’s position when they start negotiations.
In many cases, the couple’s respective divorce lawyers will exchange proposed versions of the marital separation agreement. They will soon get a sense of how far apart the couple is and whether there is a chance to resolve the issues. Each party should state their position and work for what they want to an extent. There is a chance that the divorce could be settled with some negotiation, and the matter could be ended quickly. This is the best-case scenario.
Collaborative Divorce May Involve a Mediator
There may be many four-way meetings that include both estranged spouses and their attorneys. This is the primary way that everyone will talk together to resolve issues. The collaborative divorce process could also include a number of other professionals on the team. This may include divorce coaches, financial advisers, and child custody professionals. Everyone has the same goal, and that is to help the couple end their marriage in an amicable manner.
Many divorcing couples need some extra help in the collaborative divorce process. There could be some difficult custody or property division issues that require professional help. A mediator can be a key part of the collaborative divorce process. Many cases have gone from heading to court to a settlement when a mediator gets involved.
The mediator’s job is not to decide the issues between the parties. They may give their opinion, but they are there to facilitate conversation and negotiation between the parties. They are trained in dispute resolution and how to keep negotiations proceeding toward a solution.
Approach the Process With an Open Mind
For collaborative divorce to work, each person must approach the process as something that could lead to an agreement which can help both parties. If one party is approaching everything as a zero-sum game and wants everything for themselves, the process will not work, and the parties may end up in court. There is nothing wrong with wanting certain things, but each participant needs to also recognize the other person’s interests and be willing to compromise.
In addition, each spouse must commit to going through the negotiations without accusations and bitterness. It is often difficult to put emotions aside, especially when the end of the marriage may have been contentious. Yet, this is exactly what each person has to do in a collaborative divorce.
The end result of a collaborative divorce is that the parties reach an agreement. Then, they file it with the court, and it becomes an uncontested divorce. It becomes as easy as getting a court date in front of a judge to grant the divorce without anything further. It should be that easy. Everyone has already done the difficult work through the negotiation process.
Contact a Divorce Lawyer
The family law attorneys at Lawrence Law can explain collaborative divorce and let you know if it may work for you. Call our Watchung and Red Bank family lawyers today at (908) 645-1000 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.