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Is Collaborative Divorce Right For You?

Much like the drama we often see in TV shows and much like the way the media likes to sensationalize the dramatic separation of high-profile celebrities and individuals, divorce can be terribly difficult and expensive. It demands many hours of people picking apart every detail of your relationship to use as arguments, a ton of legal fees, and in some cases, highly emotional court trials. That doesn’t begin to cover the aftermath of such a life-changing decision, and the way it may impact critical areas of your life, especially property and child care.
Children and Divorce

Legal practitioners have come up with several alternative options to the dragging court trials of couple separation. In cases of disagreements with the terms that the divorce might demand, people may opt to keep the whole process autonomous instead. One of these legal alternatives is collaborative divorce. But what is collaborative divorce?

Definition

Collaborative divorce combines the legal processes of third-party mediation and negotiation to reach an agreement on the critical areas that will be affected by a divorce, such as child custody and support, visitation alimony, and division of debt and property. It prides itself in being a “client-centered process” because it makes sure to address areas that traditional litigation often ignores, such as the emotional toll it truly takes by providing supplementary services of mental health professionals.

A collaborative divorce process must first and foremost have the consent of both parties in order to work. Each spouse must have a hired attorney that’s equipped to handle mediation and alternative dispute resolution. Both attorneys must represent only your interests, and will zealously advocate for any terms of the agreement that you don’t feel comfortable with.

Before considering this alternative legal process, keep in mind that a collaborative divorce must be anchored on a mutual decision to maintain a relatively amicable relationship during and after the process. This assumes that both spouses are willing to consider things such as providing financial support, co-parenting (here’s what you need to know about child support), and both sides’ need for privacy. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of doing so:

Advantages

It reduces the animosity between you and your spouse by promoting effective and healthy communication, instead of branding a “winner” and a “loser.”

You’re deliberately choosing a model that will make sure your voice and needs are heard.

You avoid the court battles and make sure that your attorney will ensure a win-win result instead of letting the judge make the final decision.

Because it’s an autonomous process and will depend entirely on you and your personal schedules, you won’t have to worry about court-related scheduling problems.

Collaborative divorce keeps the whole process discrete for you and your children’s emotional wellbeing, because of how sensitive and personal a divorce inherently is.

You and your spouse are encouraged to consult with a supplemental team of experts that handle financial, property, mental health, and parenting matters.

In terms of costs, it is significantly less expensive than litigation. This way you can focus on your family’s future, instead of gaining back litigation expenses.

Disadvantages

Because it’s crucial that you and your spouse must be on the same page, failing to reach an agreement will lead to traditional litigation, which will mean additional costs.

Full trust and openness in the first place is crucial, which may be unusual for a lot of couples that have breached these values in the first place.

In very specific cases such as domestic violence, the judge may not allow or accept a collaborative divorce process.
You might get less if you’re fighting to “win” the divorce by getting more assets. Collaborative divorce makes sure that you split them evenly.

Even if it may cost less than traditional litigation, you might have to pay more for consultations with experts, coaches, and property appraisers.

Even if the court process might take long, collaborative divorce can also require many hours in the case you might have to start over because of disagreements.

Bottom Line

All of this goes to say that a collaborative divorce process should speak for itself — the bedrock of “collaboration” is trust, openness, and healthy communication. Both parties must agree to this, and understand that the process goes beyond just the separation, and places perspective by encouraging you both to look at the bigger picture: how will you want your relationship to look like in the future?

Whichever divorce method you choose will influence the whole process and have the power to either lessen or encourage more stress and animosity. It will also impact how you both emerge from the life transition more satisfied or not with what you have. For collaborative divorce, it will depend, in most ways, entirely on your dynamic as partners even before the divorce, and the kind of values you both held on to.

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