When filing for divorce there are several options available to married couples, including mediation, collaboration and litigation. Collaborative divorce law has become more popular in recent years and is growing among the services offered by law firms. It is helpful to understand what this process entails, the benefits, and downfalls.

What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce is like mediation because it is non-adversarial and takes place outside of the court system.[1] It also promotes agreement between parties through private negotiations and will likely cost less than a traditional divorce accomplished through litigation.[2]

Voluntary disclosure of all relevant information is the cornerstone of both mediation and collaborative divorce.[3]

How is it Different than Mediation?

Collaborative divorce is different than mediation. Here’s how:

1. There is usually no neutral party or mediator in a collaborative divorce.[4]

Instead of meeting one-on-one with a neutral umpire, the parties will each hire their own attorney and all four will come together to negotiate in a series of meetings.[5]

2. There may be additional experts present, such as mental health professionals, child experts, certified public accountants or financial advisors.[6]

Whether or not this is the case, all parties present at the meetings must be willing to negotiate in good faith and work together to “brain storm” the best possible outcome.[7]

Collaborative divorces may be more complex than mediated divorces either due to custody issues or financial assets.

When to Choose Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce is the right choice when both parties can still work together, since the parties must agree to negotiate in good faith and agree to freely share information to avoid the expensive and time-consuming process of discovery.[8]

At the beginning of the collaborative process, both parties and their attorneys will sign an agreement that states if the proceedings are to fail, the parties will start the process of litigation, and neither spouse may use the same attorney, adding time and expense.[9]

When to Avoid Collaborative Divorce?

In some situations, collaborative divorce may not be the best choice, including:

  • If there are significant financial assets or complex financial arrangements that must be untangled and divided.[10]
  • If either party will be unwilling or afraid to voice his or her opinions.
  • If there have been threats of domestic violence or if either spouse has a drug or alcohol addiction.[11]

Each divorce is unique, and there may be additional factors to consider before choosing collaboration.

Benefits of Collaborative Divorce

One of the most significant benefits to the collaborative divorce is its non-adversarial approach. Litigation is an adversarial process that tends to increase stress on relationships that are already strained.[12] It can also be especially harmful when children are involved.

A collaborative divorce relies on cooperation and could help parties develop problem-solving techniques that will help them cooperate and co-parent, keeping them out of court in the future.

The ultimate goal of a collaborative divorce is to foster an amicable relationship between the parties during the process and after it is complete.[13] The final product of a collaborative divorce is a contract agreed to by each spouse and drawn up by the parties’ attorneys. The contract is then brought before a judge who will finalize it in an uncontested proceeding.

Legal Representation

If you or someone you know is facing a divorce and considering your options, please give us a call. Our experienced attorneys at Loeb Law Firm are prepared to provide advice and personalized legal representation.

 


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[1] Salava, Luke, Collaborative Divorce: Why the Underwhelming Advance?, 32 No. 1 GPSOLO 70.

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] 56 La. B.J. 461 (2009).

[7] Salava, Luke, Collaborative Divorce: Why the Underwhelming Advance?, 32 No. 1 GPSOLO 70.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] 56 La. B.J. 461 (2009).

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