What is Collaborative Divorce?
Going your separate ways without the cost and conflict of litigation
While divorce is never an easy process, many couples are finding ways to amicably resolve their differences when they go their separate ways, including a new process called a facilitative or collaborative divorce.
The Collaborative Divorce Process
In a collaborative divorce, each party hires an independent counsel solely to assist in reaching a fair agreement. The collaborative process usually includes a neutral financial expert and, if children are involved, a child behavioral expert. Other mental health professionals may also be involved. All attorneys and experts involved in a collaborative divorce must sign an agreement to cease their involvement if the case goes to trial.
Trained collaborative divorce lawyers approach cases with the intent of reaching an amicable settlement, rather than the more adversarial role of a trial attorney. The emphasis is on negotiation, compromise, integrity and trustworthiness at all stages of the process. Once a satisfactory resolution is reached, the parties involved sign a settlement agreement with all the term of the divorce. Only then is a complaint for divorce filed in court; usually, with an agreement already in place, the courts will waive the mandatory waiting period and finalize the divorce quickly.
The Seven C’s of Collaborative Divorce
- Control: Seeking a collaborative divorce gives the couple more control over the process, which can proceed as quickly or slowly as desired because there are no binding court dates. Some couples might want to work out their divorce immediately, while others may wish to spend months deciding how they will live separate lives. The collaborative process can accommodate almost any timetable.
- Creativity: Collaborative divorces allow more room for creativity, as the parties involved are free to craft a settlement that meets all of their needs. Going before a judge will lead to more of a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
- Cost: Even though the specialists involved in a collaborative divorce charge fees, collaborative divorces are much less expensive than litigated divorces. There is no discovery process and no need to hire expensive expert witnesses.
- Children: If children are involved, a collaborative divorce is likely the best option for their sake. Instead of witnessing hostility between their parents and being used as pawns, children are involved in the collaborative process through the child specialist.
- Comprehensive: A collaborative divorce is a comprehensive process that includes a financial neutral party, a child specialist and divorce coaches, giving the couple a broad range of support as they transition into separate lives. The comprehensive nature of the process also means there are fewer post-judgment issues.
- Confidential: Litigated divorces have no expectation of privacy; anyone can examine the entire paper trail at the courthouse or, in Oakland County, online. In contrast, a collaborative divorce keeps all of the negotiations private and confidential.
- Communication: Most importantly, collaborative divorces promote communication, forgiveness and healing between the divorced spouses. Some studies have shown that couples in a collaborative divorce are more likely to reconcile than couples who opt for litigation, suggesting that some couples in litigation have marriages that could otherwise be saved.
While the idea of collaborating with your divorcing spouse may seem like a long shot, we believe it is the best way for many couples to reach a resolution and move on with your lives. If you’re interested in exploring a facilitative divorce, the Oliver Law Group, P.C. can help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation. Call (800) 939-7878.