Collaborative Divorce is an option for couples who wish to terminate their marriage without going to court. The process of coming to an agreement about all of the many issues decided in a divorce is accomplished with the assistance of attorneys, financial neutrals, mental health coaches, and/or other experts depending on the necessities of the parties. In a Collaborative Divorce, the parties and professionals sign a Collaborative Participation agreement at the outset to work together, with all of the cards on the table, to resolve all of aspects of their marriage without going to a judge to make the decision. This form of alternative dispute resolution has many benefits.
- Collaborative Divorce is Less Expensive.
While working with attorneys and other professionals to resolve the details of the Collaborative Divorce comes with a price tag, it generally is far less expensive than a divorce that goes through the trial process. Court rules and procedures, mandatory appearances, forms and filings all cost money, and, if it goes to trial, there is the loss of time spent in court for the trial as well as the cost of the attorneys and cost of expert witnesses. In addition, after spending all these sums, there is no guarantee that one will get the outcome they desire. Instead of spending the marital estate assets on an expensive trial, a Collaborative Divorce allows the parties to preserve more their resources while working toward an agreed upon resolution.
- Collaborative Agreements Tend to be Stronger
Agreements reached in the Collaborative Process are typically more durable as the parties have retained control, and they have had a hand in restructuring their family. Further, if disputes arise in the future, parties who have worked in the collaborative process have gained skills that allow them to resolve conflict on their own and/or they return to the collaborative process to address the new issue.
- Litigation is Adversarial
Emotions run high at the end of a marriage, and litigation does not help. By its very nature, litigation assumes that the parties cannot agree to the terms of the divorce. Going before a Judge to have her decide the terms and conditions of the divorce presupposes that each side will be arguing for a different outcome. The rules of court and the procedures leading up to and including a divorce trial tend to escalate tensions and increase the parties’ alienation from one another. On the other hand, Collaborative Divorce focuses on the parties working together with their attorneys and collaborative professionals to craft an agreement resolving their differences outside of court. Avoiding the combative nature of litigation is particularly important where there are children involved, as children adjust to their parents’ separation and divorce more readily and more positively when the parents’ conflict is lower. An ugly trial that involves traded insults and accusations will do nothing to help future interactions.
- Satisfactory Outcomes
When a Judge makes decisions in a divorce trial, each side has had the opportunity to advocate for certain outcomes, but ultimate control lies with the Judge. In a Collaborative Divorce, the parties exercise self-determination. The process specifically aims to allow each party to have a voice in the ultimate agreement. By encouraging this level of involvement in resolving the issues, a Collaborative Divorce empowers each party, which is more likely to lead to resolutions of conflicts that satisfy both parties. Of course, when compromises need to be made, neither side may feel like they “won”, but they will feel greater satisfaction than an outright loss on the issue which is the risk when going to court.
Collaborative Divorce is a commitment by both parties to work to reach a mutually acceptable Agreement premised on transparency. Divorce is almost always a major life event for everyone involved. With Collaborative Divorce, the goal is for both parties to start the next chapters of their lives as securely as possible – financially, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Collaborative Divorce is not a quick and easy fix, but the benefits of collaborating are many, so it is well worth considering it as a better way to get a divorce.
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