Collaborative Divorce is a method or process of divorcing that enables the spouses to negotiate their differences outside of court and without the costly, time-consuming and stressful processes of a contested litigation.
In a Collaborative Divorce, each spouse is represented by their own attorney. The case stays out of court throughout the process. Each party’s attorney is fully committed to their client and should zealously represent their client. The attorneys should pursue the best result for their client. The Collaborative Divorce does not have to be a friendly event. Both parties will want to get the best for themselves on all the issues. Only they do so in a smart manner in a process that enables them to seek the best result without the unnecessary cost, stress, time and negative effects on children of a contested court case.
The parties and their attorneys (even though zealously representing their client) commit to the Collaborative Process to resolve the case by negotiating it and working out a settlement without going to court. The attorneys agree in advance, and as part of each attorney's formal retainer agreement, that the attorneys cannot represent their client in a contested court case if the case does not settle. This ensures that both attorneys are committed to the settlement process.
Other professionals may be utilized in the process if necessary, such as financial planners and parent coordinators if there is a need.
It is a voluntary process for the parties and either party can end it at any time and pursue a contested divorce or any other course.
The parties will exchange the financial documentation and information that is needed and get appraisals to value property and businesses if necessary. And, it will be done much quicker and cheaper than in a contested divorce.
The Collaborative Divorce method will address all the issues of the marriage - custody and parental rights, financial and property rights, child support, maintenance (also known as alimony), and equitable distribution which is the division of the property and responsibility for the liabilities. When the issues are resolved, a settlement agreement with all the details of the agreement is signed and the case is then filed with the court as an uncontested divorce. The parties will not have to go to court.
The settlement agreement is a binding contract that the parties must abide by. Its terms include the details of the support, parenting, property distribution, and other provisions. Each party wants favorable terms that benefit them. The terms in the settlement agreement is the end-product. It is the part that counts. The terms of the agreement will often have a significant impact on the divorcing spouses for many years to come and long after the divorce is done. The terms must be drafted carefully and correctly.
All types of cases can be resolved in a Collaborative Divorce - those with substantial or modest assets, high or low incomes, businesses, complex cases, and those with difficult custodial and parental issues.
Collaborative Divorce is for people who want to get the best result for themselves, without the high cost of unnecessary attorney fees, and without enduring the time, inconvenience and stress on themselves and their children that comes with a contested divorce.
A Collaborative Divorce works even where there is significant disagreement or animosity and even where the parties cannot talk to each other. The attorney should counsel their client to approach the financial and custodial issues and all of their objectives in a cool and rational manner. The attorney should get their client to focus on making rational and business-like decisions. To avoid acting out of anger, haste or other emotional reasons that are ultimately unproductive. To avoid spiraling into a contested divorce that all too often takes on a life of its own and by its very nature is difficult to get out of once it starts. People may also wrongly believe that a divorce court will address the actual or perceived wrongs of the other spouse during the marriage. The courts have little time or inclination for those matters and they are largely irrelevant to the determination of financial issues leaving many spouses disappointed when such matters are ignored by the courts.
Many cases that start out as a contested divorce in court often settle before trial anyway, but only after the extraordinary expenditure of otherwise unnecessary attorney fees. These cases are often fueled by emotions or the hasty filing of a contested divorce. Often these cases settle after the parties have incurred rounds of attorney fees in an inefficient and costly process. Don’t fall into that trap if you don’t have to.
A Collaborative Divorce is divorcing smart. Like a mediated divorce, when done correctly, the benefits of a Collaborative Divorce are many – Favorable Results, Cost, Control, Less Stress, Time, Convenience.
Favorable results. In a Collaborative divorce, both parties try to get the best result for themselves - even though it is does done outside of court. That should be the goal in a Collaborative Divorce. The experience and skill of the attorney is most important in getting the best result.
Cost. Collaborative costs much less than a contested divorce. The Collaborative divorce will do the necessary processes and reach a conclusion at a fraction of the cost of a Contested Divorce. Like Mediation, it leaves more money and property for both parties. You don’t have to share your family’s assets with divorce lawyers when it is not necessary. Contested Divorces often end with the same settlement that could have been reached in a Collaborative Divorce. Now, more than ever, with money being tight, don’t waste it on a contested divorce when it is not needed.
Control. Like a Mediation, the Collaborative process enables the parties to control the divorce process.
Less Stress. A Collaborative Divorce is much less stressful than a Contested Divorce even though both parties are actively vying for the best result on the disputed issues. A Contested Divorce means going to court, stressing over court decisions and attorney fees, arbitrary deadlines, etc. Many people say that being in a Contested Divorce feels like a dark cloud following them around. Contested divorces typically create additional animosity between the parties and a great deal of stress for the children. This is especially so in contested custody cases. It is often the children who suffer the most and are negatively impacted by contested litigation.
Time. A Collaborative Divorce can be done quickly. And a contested divorce typically requires the parties to allocate a lot of time to the process and the rigid times are controlled by the courts and attorneys. Parties to a Contested Divorce have to miss work for court appearances, depositions and other proceedings and there are deadlines that have to be met. The time and effort of the parties that is needed to do a Collaborative Divorce is much less than a Contested Divorce. Get your case done right and with far less interruption of work and personal time.
Convenience. Divorce in the way that works best for you and your family and with much more control over every aspect of the process and the outcome. Like a Mediation, the Collaborative process is far more flexible than a Contested Divorce.
The experience and skill of the attorney is most important in getting a favorable result in a Collaborative Divorce.
A Collaborative Divorce is better for people who want their own legal representation and the best outcome for themselves, and to get it done with less cost, less stress on themselves and their children, and to have it done quickly and efficiently.
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