Divorce is evolving. Instead of the traditional, contentious courtroom-setting divorce, many couples are opting for a more amicable process. One option that is gaining popularity is the collaborative divorce process. Couples that are unable to develop an agreement on their own but would prefer to avoid a lengthy and costly courtroom proceeding may benefit from this alternative form of divorce.
Collaborative law and divorce: The basics.
A collaborative divorce generally involves each client, his or her own separate legal counsel, and a neutral coach. Additional experts may be hired as well, including financial specialists and child development experts, to assist in putting together a mutually beneficial agreement. This allows the divorce to proceed as a team effort with each party having a say in how legal issues will be resolved. This includes issues involving property division, alimony, child custody, and child support arrangements.
In an effort to ensure all parties involved are motivated to negotiate an agreement, the parties and the attorneys hired to provide counsel through the process sign an agreement stating the attorneys will not provide legal representation in the event the couple chooses to forgo the collaborative law method and instead go to court.
It is important to note that the collaborative process does not completely remove the courtroom element of a divorce; however, it greatly reduces the court’s involvement. Instead of a full trial, the court will likely review and sign off on the agreement. This results in a relatively brief courtroom appearance.
Collaborative law and divorce: The benefits.
Couples that are drawn to the collaborative law divorce style may find the increased control and privacy of the process appealing. This is in contrast to the traditional divorce in the courtroom setting which leaves decisions about the legal issues tied to the divorce to the court’s discretion.
The collaborative law process also may make more financial sense. The issue was recently discussed in an article by U.S. News, noting that in the long run this alternative process can save couples money. Instead of hiring separate financial and child experts to present a case that is
beneficial to one party, one team is used to develop an amicable agreement while allowing each party to have separate legal counsel to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected.
Collaborative law and the divorce: Is it right for you?
Collaborative divorce may not work for couples with a significant power imbalance or in instances when one partner is emotionally, physically or psychologically abusive. Those who are considering the process are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced collaborative law attorney to better ensure a more favorable outcome.