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Collaborative Divorce: 4 Questions For Your Divorce Lawyer

When you and/or your spouse first seek a divorce, you may not know where to begin. You may be wondering where to find a divorce attorney and what your options are for the divorce process. Depending on your circumstances, one viable alternative to litigation in court is collaborative divorce. Here's some information about this divorce method and questions to ask your divorce lawyer.

1. What Is A Collaborative Divorce?

To understand and define a collaborative divorce, first, lose your preconceived notions of what the divorce process entails. In a traditional divorce, each party retains their own lawyer and goes to court to litigate their divorce, which can be stressful, costly and time-consuming. The collaborative divorce process has both parties working together on all aspects of the divorce agreement, each with their own attorney present and with full transparency as to all of the pertinent facts and information. It’s important to note that the parties retain control over the outcome, as opposed to leaving it up to a judge to decide, and in fact, in a collaborative divorce, both parties sign an agreement stating that they agree not to litigate their issues but instead to use the collaborative process to settle. They negotiate the particulars that will be involved, such as finances, child custody and property settlements. Collaborative divorce is a legal process where both parties work through the issues inhibiting the resolution of the divorce action to reach a mutually agreeable settlement.

2. What Is A Collaborative Divorce Attorney?

A collaborative divorce attorney is a divorce lawyer who has undergone specific training in collaborative divorces and has experience in collaborative divorce proceedings. While a mediator serves as an unbiased third-party that cannot offer legal advice to either side, in collaborative divorce each party retains their own divorce lawyer but rather than serving as advocates for opposing sides in a more adversarial process, in a collaborative divorce both attorneys and both clients work together as a team to resolve the matter. The concept of collaborative divorce relies on discussion and negotiation to resolve problems and thus retain control over the outcome, rather than allowing the judicial system to make the decisions or attorneys to argue back and forth. With this in mind, your collaborative divorce attorney should be good at dealing with people, asking questions and finding mutually beneficial solutions.

3. What Are The First Steps In The Collaborative Divorce Process?

First, each party would need to hire their own collaborative divorce lawyer who has been trained in collaborative divorce. Second, an initial collaborative session will be scheduled to walk through the collaborative agreement and ensure that both parties are committed to the process and willing to sign the agreement that neither will litigate and will instead use the collaborative process. During this initial meeting, decisions will be made about other professionals to involve in the collaborative team, if any. For example, this can include a mental health professional serving as a divorce coach to address the emotional aspects of the divorce or serving as a neutral child specialist to advise on parenting plans and custody arrangements, and a financial professional to assist with gathering the pertinent financial documentation, assembling a list of assets and liabilities, and advising about tax implications, support scenarios and the impact of the distribution of the marital property.

4. What Are The Advantages To A Collaborative Divorce?

There are several benefits of choosing collaborative divorce as opposed to alternative options for divorce proceedings. One important advantage of collaborative divorce centers around custody of your children. A statistical study reported that, in the U.S., child custody cases were determined by a government body or the court 88% of the time. A judge who has never met your family will make binding decisions that affect your child’s future and well-being. However, collaborative divorce proceedings allow the parents to work together and retain control over decisions that impact their children.

Another important benefit, regardless of whether or not you have children, is that your divorce proceedings remain more amicable with the threat of court proceedings off the table and instead working together as a team to discuss and fashion solutions. Instead of litigating and arguing over assets, debts, alimony and more in numerous court appearances, which is expensive, emotionally draining and time-consuming, collaborative divorce is a more civil process that guides both parties to a thoughtful settlement that takes into consideration the needs of the entire family. This lessens the emotional and financial drain that can occur if the divorce proceedings drag on and reduces the risk of fall-out from hurling allegations at one another in court.

Your divorce doesn’t need to be overly complicated and stressful – if you and your former spouse are committed to maintaining a civil relationship for your sake and the sake of your entire family, a collaborative divorce may be the best option for you. This will depend heavily on your situation, but the advantages of collaborative divorce are quite clear. If you wish to know more, or you’re looking for a family law attorney experienced in collaborative divorce, contact Hite Kaminsky Family Law today.