Rounding out our series on separating civilly, the relatively new process called collaborative divorce has firmly established itself as a viable option for couples looking to separate without the nasty contentiousness of litigation.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, collaborative divorce is a non-adversarial and private process by which couples can separate amicably and without court involvement. To participate, both spouses hire trained collaborative divorce attorneys and agree to the terms of the process. While the terms may vary, they typically include:
- Promising to participate with honesty, cooperation and integrity; and
- Full-disclosure and open sharing of financial documents and other pertinent information; and
- Participation in a series of meetings that often include other professionals such as a custody evaluator, mediator, and/or financial planner.
There are valid pros and cons to the process. On the pro side, it can be substantially cheaper than litigation. Additionally, there is a large degree of autonomy. The parties ultimately decide what arrangement works best for them and their own unique circumstances. A judge does not order the outcome and the outcome is not made a matter of public record. Lastly, the parties are working in collaboration to obtain an outcome that fulfills both parties’ best interests.
While there are many positives, there are real cons too. The biggest is, should the process fail, you and your spouse could end up paying a great deal more than you originally intended. Collaborative divorce attorneys do not, under any circumstances, participate in litigation. This is always a term included in the agreement. If the process fails, both spouses will have to seek and retain other attorneys who will be able to litigate. This means having to pay an attorney to take the matter to trial on top of the money you paid to the collaborative divorce professionals. The possibility is a positive insomuch as it provides extra incentive for separating spouses to reach a resolution. Even so, if you’re unable to settle, you will have to start from scratch several thousands of dollars later.
While collaborative divorce is by no means a conflict-free process, the system is designed to minimize conflict and help both parties get the resolution they want. You should look further into this process if you and your spouse agree it would be best not to litigate and to keep things as civil as possible.Find Collaborative Divorce Attorneys