Collaborative divorces are a novel approach to resolving issues that arise during divorce. A collaborative divorce is a cross between divorce mediation and a traditional divorce involving attorneys. Both spouses retain the services of attorneys and have to agree to use non-adversarial techniques in dispute resolution. The objective is to reach an agreement that meets both parties’ needs while avoiding litigation. Collaborative attorneys work to resolve conflicts rather than create them.
Collaborative divorces have been around for decades in some places, but only recently has this model become more popular in the United States. It is especially common among couples who want out of their marriages but don’t want to go through the years-long process of filing for divorce in court and going through the court system.
The idea behind collaborative divorces is that the two parties can come together and work out their differences without going through all the steps required by standard divorce proceedings, including hiring lawyers and going through a trial before a judge or jury. Instead, they can agree on how they want their divorce to proceed, usually with one lawyer representing each spouse. For the process to be effective, both parties must be cooperative and willing to compromise. The process is pointless if one or both parties cannot agree on the issues.
The Process of Collaborative Divorce
Both parties and their attorneys sign a “participation agreement” at the start of the process. With this participation agreement, the attorneys are prevented from representing either spouse if they cannot achieve an agreement on the terms of the divorce and must litigate. If the collaborative process fails, both parties must seek new counsel before proceeding with litigation.
In the beginning, both parties must discuss their goals individually and decide on them with their attorneys. For instance, before meeting with the spouse and their attorney, one party would let their counsel know if they feel they should get a certain sum of money as alimony or child support. Four-way talks between the parties’ attorneys are held once both parties know their objectives. Other specialists, such as those with expertise in child custody, finances, and mental health, may attend these discussions.
If both sides have difficulty reaching a consensus, a qualified mediator may be brought in. All parties, aside from the spouses and attorneys, are impartial and ought to solely be interested in reaching an out-of-court agreement on the terms of the divorce. The legal aspect of the divorce is relatively straightforward after both parties have reached an understanding of all matters. If the divorce is uncontested because all of the conditions have been agreed upon, there is no trial.
Typically, collaborative divorces last between eight months and a year. If the parties have trouble coming up with answers to their issues, they may take longer. A collaborative divorce often lasts at least six months since it is so thorough.
Due to the collaborative nature of the process, collaborative divorce might be pretty complex. Thankfully, our lawyers at Lamb, Carroll, Papp, and Cunabaugh have additional experience with these matters because they have received specialized training in the procedure. If you need legal counsel during your collaborative divorce, we will represent you excellently by finding innovative solutions that satisfy your needs and meet everyone’s goals. Reach out to us here for a consultation.