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Is a collaborative divorce right for me?

Divorce is never easy. This is true in even the most amicable of splits. Once the decision to divorce is made, the parties to the divorce must decide which legal path is best to end the marriage. One option to consider is collaborative divorce.

Collaborative divorce is unique from the traditional, litigious courtroom style of divorce in many ways. Some examples include:

  • Focused. Those who agree to collaborative divorce generally sign an agreement that they will focus on this process. This includes an agreement to refrain from using litigation as a threat during negotiations. Instead, all parties must agree to follow the collaborative process or fire the professionals involved and start over.
  • Limited counsel. As noted above, the attorneys who sign on to offer counsel during the collaborative divorce process will not provide representation if the process fails and the couple heads to court. If this happens, the couple will need to find new representation. The same is generally true for any additional experts, like financial specialists.
  • Control. Parties who choose to use the collaborative process to divorce often have more control over the outcome in comparison to going to court and leaving these decisions with the judge.

This process is also much more private than traditional litigation as courtroom proceedings are often public.

How does it work?

Those who chose collaborative divorce generally hire their own legal counsel. This means each party has an attorney advocating for their interests. However, instead of fighting to win a case both parties are negotiating to reach a final agreement that works for everyone involved.

Once legal counsel is in place the parties meet with their attorneys to determine their goals and priorities. Negotiations will follow with the goal of putting together a settlement agreement.

Is it effective?

Judges are often in favor of collaborative divorce. For many couples this is an effective alternative to litigation. Judges note that couples who use collaborative law are more likely to put together a final agreement that is more manageable than one developed through litigation mitigating the risk of future litigation and requests for modifications.

It is important to note that there are situations when collaborative divorce is not the best option. This can include relationships that have a history of abuse or a large power disparity.