Collaborative divorce sounds a bit like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?
After all, you are preparing a legal split from your spouse. The last thing you want to do is work closely with your former ex on essential matters like alimony, child support, and asset division.
And, like most divorces, you’re told that you’re supposed to be at odds with your spouse as you both prepare to battle it out in costly divorce court.
Isn’t that right?
Well, not necessarily.
In fact, collaborative divorce is becoming more popular than ever as a way to split from one’s spouse without the need for costly, time-consuming, and emotionally draining court battles.
Collaborative Family Law – Working Together for an Amicable Split
Collaborative law is a process within family law that lets couples split their union with the help of collaborative divorce attorneys.
The process was developed in 1990 by a family lawyer in Minnesota by the name of Stuart Webb.
Webb had long witnessed the damage traditional litigation had on divorcing parties and their families. That led him to seek a fast and more efficient means of helping families navigate divorce law.
This insight spurred what became known as the Collaborative Law Movement, which quickly spread across the U.S. and into Europe, Canada, and Australia.
Today, according to the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP), over 20,000 collaborative lawyers have been trained in this discipline across 46 states and worldwide.
How Does Collaborative Law Work?
Collaborative divorce seeks to bring divorcing parties together for cooperative discussions and friendly negotiations. The purpose is to arrive at a settlement you both can agree on that includes all matters relating to alimony, child visitation, debt and asset division, and any others that may apply.
Like traditional divorce litigation, both you and your spouse will retain attorneys to represent you. This is where collaborative lawyers come in.
Having lawyers you both can turn to is immensely helpful during the collaborative divorce process, as you and your spouse will each have an experienced professional willing to listen to – and alleviate – your concerns.
Unlike the often-messy process of divorce court, you and your spouse will meet with your attorneys during one or more four-way discussions, usually in a board or conference room. These informal meetings are designed to be amicable so that all matters can be handled in everyone’s best interests.
Collaborative Divorce vs. Divorce Court
One of the best aspects of collaborative divorce is that you don’t need to go to court, at least not yet. In order to proceed, both you and your attorney will sign a “no court” agreement. Your spouse will do the same with his or her attorney.
Once signed, you and your spouse, along with your attorneys, will be free to talk about things in a friendlier setting without judges and without all the expenditures, both financial and time-based.
Your attorneys may recommend that other collaborative professionals be called upon to settle more complex issues, such as accountants, asset valuators, and IT professionals for more technical matters. However, if everything goes according to plan, you can resolve all your differences without emotions running high, which is a far departure from your typical divorce court scenario.
If these matters are not resolved and the court is inevitable, your collaborative attorneys will need to take a step back, and both you and your spouse will be forced to retain new lawyers as you head into court.
If you can come to an agreement, you will find that collaborative divorce is easier on the emotions while saving you both time and money.
Collaborative Divorce vs. Mediation?
Divorce mediation and collaborative divorce have some similarities, but both processes are different in scope.
With mediation, you and your spouse can hire attorneys, but it’s not absolutely necessary. Hiring mediation services attorneys can help you and your spouse negotiate the more complicated matters regarding your divorce, and with far more confidence, resulting in a streamlined and stress-free affair.
To proceed with mediation, you and your spouse will collaboratively decide on a divorce mediator, who will then guide you both to a reasonable outcome. The mediator doesn’t have any power to judge over you and your spouse, per se. Instead, the professional merely directs the proceedings to keep you both on track until you can arrive at a peaceful resolution.
Like collaborative divorce, mediation is usually quicker and less expensive than divorce court. The process is also informal and allows for free-flowing ideas as you work to settle all your disputes.
Looking for More Flexibility in Your Divorce?
Are you trying to decide if a collaborative divorce is right for you? Or, maybe mediation is more your speed. To find out, you deserve to speak to a qualified and experienced collaborative mediation divorce lawyer. Only a trained professional can answer your questions while helping you come to the wisest decision with regards to your unique situation.
Are There Any Downsides to Collaborative Divorce or Mediation?
The only downside to both of them is that you and your spouse will need to start all over if either process doesn’t work out and you do end up going to court.
This is why it is critical to get expert advice to see if either of these processes are ideal for you.
How to Know Which Type of Divorce is Right for You?
You can almost guarantee that you and your spouse will benefit from either process if your differences aren’t overly complex. For instance, if you already know how you plan to split your debts and assets, if you already have children and alimony matters resolved, or you at least have some idea of how the split should go, start looking for collaborative divorce or mediation divorce attorneys and get the process started. By getting the process started now, your divorce could be finalized before you know it.
Divorce doesn’t have to be messy, nor does it have to drain you emotionally or financially. For a more peaceful and civil means of divorcing your spouse, seek the guidance of a tenured professional in these matters. Call the mediation specialists at Fresh Start Mediation, where you can learn more about collaborative divorce and mediation for ultimate peace of mind. Call us now in Carlsbad, Vista and San Marcos, California, to schedule a free consultation.