08 Feb Everything You Should Know About Collaborative Divorce
Some aspects of divorce will always be painful regardless of the legal route a couple chooses. However, some avenues can make the experience a little less heartbreaking. For example, former spouses can agree to a collaborative divorce if they are able to work together in a structured process that allows for negotiations to take place instead of going to court. This allows for amicability to be maintained for the purposes of co-parenting and for resolution of any potential or future issue with minimal action in court. This is often preferred to avoid the emotional and financial strain that comes with having to resort to the court to resolve issues. This piece will discuss what you should know about a collaborative divorce. Perhaps after reading, you may find this is the most ideal option for you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse.
What Is a Collaborative Divorce?
A collaborative divorce works exactly as it sounds—couples work together to sort through their separation, not apart. At the beginning of the process, each party must hire a collaborative divorce attorney who will sign an agreement stating what everyone’s intentions are. Typically, these contracts state that if a peaceful resolution cannot be met, each person will have to hire a new attorney and start a less tranquil divorce process if resolution out of court is not possible, and court action is necessary.
You have the option of working between attorneys or using 3rd party professionals as well to assist you in reaching an agreement that is acceptable to both parties. These 3rd party professionals offer expertise and guidance for the parties to investigate, explore and determine the best way to proceed. Third party professionals often include a financial expert for determination of property division, and/or a parenting counselor or skills expert to assist in reaching an agreed upon parenting plan that is in the best interest of the children.
One of the primary reasons former spouses choose to get a collaborative divorce is that no courts are involved. Again, each person and their lawyers work together to formulate a post-marital agreement. The remainder of this article will overview the pros and cons of choosing this route so that couples in this situation have all the information they need to make a decision.
Collaborative divorces are usually less expensive than traditional divorces. The main reason is that each party does not have to proceed with their attorneys into the court as a public forum to viciously fight out their battles so a Judge may make a determination based on what is presented to the court. Often in court you are unable to provide in person perspective and details as to any personal issues and must rely on summarizing events and impersonal argument within the confines of court rules and procedure. Conversely, the goal in the collaborative process is to be as cooperative as possible to avoid the latter from happening. In addition, collaborative divorces often do not take as long to process as regular ones do. If both parties are committed to compromising, then everything should move along as planned and agreed to.
Those who undergo a collaborative divorce may have a stronger relationship with their ex than those who do not. In other types of divorces, former spouses are known for getting angry with each other. Both parties let their emotions run high so they can get what they want out of the divorce agreement. It is not far off the mark to say that individuals who choose this route have no intentions of maintaining a relationship once the dust has settled.
The opposite is true for those going through a collaborative divorce. It is perfectly natural to want to remain on good terms with your ex, despite the fact that your romantic relationship is ending. There is no hard and fast rule that says you must hate the person you were once married to. Instead, it is actually healthier for your mental health to accept that just because one aspect of the partnership is over does not mean the entire thing has to end. So, if you want any hope of staying on good terms with your former spouse, then a collaborative divorce is the way to go. The easiest example of success in the collaborative process is having a parenting arrangement that encourages co-parenting so that the parents may attend events such as graduations, sporting games, and family/friend celebrations with the children and for the children without quarreling or making the situation unenjoyable.
People who have gone through a divorce know that other individuals get involved quickly. This statement is especially true when things get heated, and one person is trying to “win” more than the other. Collaborative divorces are more private since the goal is to work together. As a result, if you do not want your loved ones being dragged through the mud, think about getting a collaborative divorce. Again, this increased privacy may improve your mental health throughout a tough situation.
So far, we have discussed the advantages of getting a collaborative divorce. Now, we must begin a discussion of the disadvantages of this option so that people have the full picture. As idyllic as it sounds, this alternative is not meant for everyone.
Ill-Equipped for Complicated Situations
Collaborative divorces are not ideal for couples dealing with negotiation issues in which there is no middle ground. Below are a few examples that may not be able to be resolved collaboratively:
- Parents with high conflict relationships trying to sort out child custody typically have problems going through a collaborative divorce. In these instances, it is better to get the courts involved so that a concrete co-parenting plan is developed without the reliance of the parties reaching agreement if there is not a middle ground available to reach.
- While people with complicated financial situations may rely on a financial expert in the collaborative process, there may be business, criminal or other issues that complicate the situation in a way that cannot be resolved by agreement. In that case, a court setting is often the most efficient route towards resolving any immediate issues.
- A collaborative divorce will not be granted if there is a history of domestic abuse, or if one party has a mental illness and cannot fully participate or may not be physically or mentally capable of following the collaborative process. The collaborative process requires participation and ability to negotiate and understand your position as well as the opposing position so a resolution may be reached. If one party is unable to operate on that level, then court action may be the only option available.
- Courts also will not grant collaborative divorces to those with a history of drug abuse. Similarly, as discussed the paragraph above, both parties must be competent and able to participate fully and be committed to working together to reach agreement. If one party or both are unable to fulfill that commitment, the collaborative process may not be the best route for your matter.
Compromise Is a Must
Another reason why collaborative divorce does not work for everyone is that compromise is a must. Both parties must be willing to put their egos aside to work with one another. If attorneys sense any hostility between the former exes, they will eventually come to the point when collaboration will not continue. If this happens, both parties must hire different attorneys specializing in more contested divorce settlements and restart the entire process. Something To Keep In Mind: Restarting your legal journey will cost more money because you will have to hire an entirely new team.
This article has detailed what you should know about a collaborative divorce. For some people, this option is ideal. Dealing with changing court schedules, attending court hearings, and paying for continued action in court from your legal team can become very stressful, emotional and financially burdensome. Furthermore, heated divorces created an irreparable strain between the two parties. So, if you want to remain in good standing with your former partner, then you should both do more research on this alternative.
However, if you cannot cooperate with your ex, then a traditional divorce may be the best option for you. If you tried the collaborative process and things did not work out, you will have to hire a new legal team. Luckily, LaCoste Family Law is here to help. We are among the best divorce lawyers in Tri Cities, Washington. We understand how difficult divorce is, and our primary goal is to lessen the strain on our clients so they may move forward with their lives in a productive and healthy manner that allows for growth and success for the family even after such difficult events such as separation. We aim to be an ally for everyone, no matter which legal route they choose.