Going through a divorce can be a challenging and emotional experience. While most divorces are not as contentious as we might think they can be, they still require time, money, and a physical and emotional commitment from both parties involved.
Some states offer couples divorce alternatives, such as mediation or collaborative divorce to help encourage couples to resolve their divorce disputes.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on all the terms of your divorce, these methods may prove helpful. Today, we focus in on one of these methods called collaborative divorce and how it works.
What Is Collaborative Divorce?
A collaborative divorce is a legal divorce process that encourages couples to negotiate all the terms of their divorce without needing to go to court. Couples will utilize a combination of mediation and negotiation to reach an agreement regarding matters such as child custody and property and debt division.
The Process of Collaborative Divorce
For collaborative divorce to work, both parties must be willing to work together and enter the process. If one is unwilling to participate, this method will not prove successful.
The next step is for each spouse to hire an attorney, preferably one that is experienced in such matters. Both parties will meet with their attorney in private to discuss what they are hoping to achieve, any areas they are willing to negotiate, and other matters.
Both parties will then work with their attorney to establish their collaborative divorce team, which may include a mediator, divorce coach, financial advisor, and a child specialist. You may not need these specialists or may also need additional professionals to assist you. Together, you, your attorney, and your specialists will act as a team and work together to help you find the best resolutions for your family.
Once this has been completed, you will meet with your spouse and your spouse’s attorney in a four-way meeting. At the initial meeting, both parties and their attorneys will sign a no-court agreement, giving both attorneys the right to withdraw from the case if either spouse exits and wishes to begin litigation in court. This agreement also holds each party accountable, especially during difficult conversations. Subsequent meetings may be held after to revisit any issues.
You will need to provide your spouse with financial information to continue with the process, including but not limited to the following:
- Tax returns
- Employment information
- Salary information
- Debt information
- Bank account statements
Once you and your spouse have come to an agreement, your lawyers will draft it up. After, the judge will sign this, and it will become your final judgement of divorce.
How Do You Know Collaborative Divorce the Right Choice for You?
If you and your spouse are both committed to resolving your differences out of court, can work together, and are willing to negotiate, collaborative divorce would be a good choice for you. On the other hand, if you and your spouse cannot work together or there is a history of domestic violence in the relationship, it is probably better to file a contested divorce. Your lawyer can provide you with more assistance in this arena.