Every time a married couple part ways, the necessity of resolving at least a few disagreements over property division, spousal support, child custody, child support and other matters is unavoidable. But parties have positive options to the traditional adversarial process that many associate with divorce, with each spouse retreating to a corner with his or her own attorney before butting heads in court.
Collaborative law, also known as collaborative divorce or collaborative practice, is a form of consensual dispute resolution specifically adapted to the dissolution of marriage. Both parties and their attorneys pledge to sit down and negotiate in good faith to achieve an outcome that works for both sides. But unlike traditional divorce litigation, if negotiations fail, the attorneys must withdraw before further legal action can be taken.
This does not mean that collaborative divorce requires spouses to rely on their own expertise. Mental health and financial specialists and other professionals are brought in to make sure that every detail is fully addressed. When the parties have reached agreement on all issues, the attorneys complete the details of a Marital Settlement Agreement. With both spouses' signatures, the terms of that agreement will form the basis of a divorce order granted in family court.
Achieving Economical Solutions and Sound Results
Because collaborative practice focuses on solving problems rather than trying to collect a victory, participants tend to find that it will cost less and take less time than traditional divorce. Perhaps most important is the opportunity for both spouses to emerge with their dignity intact. If they are parents, preservation of mutual respect can provide a foundation for a stable life going forward for the children.
"The process leads to better, long-lasting solutions and less conflict in the future," Sacramento divorce lawyer Hal Bartholomew recently told KXTV. "The very nature of the process gives consideration to each person's need and concerns. Their goals and objectives are addressed in order to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. The power struggles, delay, expense and wear and tear of a court battle are avoided."
To learn more about the collaborative law process, seek out a divorce lawyer who has collaborative divorce training and belongs to a local collaborative practice group. An attorney with a history of successful resolutions of divorces outside of the courtroom can fully explain the advantages of avoiding litigation while assessing the
* The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization