Divorce is hard on everybody involved, including the kids, so it’s always better if you can take the intensity of the process down a notch or two. Collaborative divorce is one approach that allows couples to try to end their marriage peacefully, without litigation.
In a collaborative law setting, each spouse commits (in writing) to participate in the negotiations in good faith and to try to resolve their disputes over financial issues, custody and anything else related to the divorce without resorting to litigation.
How is collaborative divorce different from mediation?
Unlike mediation, collaborative law requires both parties to have an attorney present for the negotiations to advise them. Unlike mediation, there’s no third party there to manage the situation – although it isn’t unusual for couples to bring in outside experts to help with things like asset and debt distribution or matters of support.
How can a collaborative divorce benefit you?
It’s really all about what collaborative divorce can do that litigation can’t. Since litigation is an adversarial, public process and collaboration is cooperative and private, a collaborative divorce:
- Give you more control over the timeline of the divorce, since you aren’t waiting on court dates and a judge’s availability
- Helps you and your spouse develop better communication skills and refocus your relationship for the future, which is critical if you have children together
- Allows you to control your narrative and avoid the reputational damage that can come from a hard-fought, public divorce
- Keeps couples focused on solutions for the future (instead of rehashing their past problems)
- Encourages agreements that are custom-built for your family’s unique situation, which are more likely to last and keep you out of court later
It’s important to note that if either side ends the collaborative process before an agreement is reached, each side has to hire new attorneys to handle the litigation. That can increase your time and expense. While this can be a drawback, it’s also an incentive for both sides to deeply commit to resolving their difficulties without the court’s intervention.
Divorce can be scary, but you can eliminate a lot of your fears by simply learning more about your legal options so that you can choose the path that’s best for you.