A “collaborative divorce” sounds like an oxymoron. You are ending a marriage, how can it be collaborative? Isn’t your spouse now the enemy? The answer: they don’t have to be.
You were a team throughout your marriage, so consider working as a team through the divorce process. Collaborative divorce can be less adversarial, and set you up for a positive relationship post-divorce. How can collaborative divorce benefit both of you emotionally and financially?
- Collaborate divorces are often less expensive. Litigation is an expensive process, with an unknown price tag and duration. It is a multi-stage process with initial pleadings, discovery, settlement, trial preparation and eventual trial. Each phase can cost you countless hours and thousands of dollars. You have no control over how much time it will take to come to a final agreement, or whether you will be happy with the court’s decision. You work together in a collaborative divorce, and not against each other. Therefore, collaborative divorces normally take less time to come to an agreement, with lower lawyer fees than a litigious divorce.
- Collaborative divorces allow you to make decisions that work for your family. You and your spouse understand your family dynamics and needs. Litigation allows a third party to decide an outcome for you, without real insight into your day-to-day lives. If you explore a collaborative divorce with your spouse, you determine your own outcome. Knowing your family members’ unique needs, you can create a plan that makes the transition easiest for all of you.
- Collaborative divorces are shaped in a supportive environment of trained professionals. While you have more control in a collaborative divorce, you are not left on your own to establish an equitable agreement. A team of professionals helps you divide your assets, create a child support plan and spousal support payments. You and your spouse will each have your own lawyer who is committed to helping the two of you. The attorneys agree not to go to court. Other specialists can be brought in based on your unique circumstances. These include mental health professionals, financial advisors, divorce coaches and child specialists to present options and help you determine which will work best for both of you. The team assists you in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement.
While collaborative divorce will work for the vast majority of couples, you should discuss the merits of a collaborative divorce with your spouse. If the two of you are sincere about working in a process that is based upon your interests, then choose collaborative divorce. Consider reaching out to an attorney who understands the collaborative process and is able to discuss it with you to determine if it might be right for you.