A Beginner's Guide To Collaborative Divorce

Posted on: 28 July 2015

According to the Americans For Divorce Reform, approximately 40 percent to 50 percent of all marriages will unfortunately end in divorce. Under the best circumstances, going through a divorce can be scary – especially if both parties are unwilling to cooperate. If you're considering a divorce, or are in the beginning stages of this legal battle, there is an alternative to a traditional courtroom divorce: collaborative divorce. Before opting for this increasingly popular option, learn about the ins and outs of collaborative divorce and family law:

What Exactly Is A Collaborative Divorce?

In many cases, a traditional divorce – which usually includes court rooms, lawyers and a lot of time and expense – is the best route. However, if you and your spouse are looking for a resolution rather than a series of settlements and legal battles, a collaborative divorce might be the best option.

During a collaborative divorce, both spouses agree to each hire their own lawyer and instead of meeting before a judge, or working inside the court system at all, work things out through mediation. The spouses and their lawyers will also work with a number of professionals, such as mediators, child custody specialists and settlement specialists, to come to an agreement.

Be aware that depending on where you live, you might be ordered by a judge to seek a collaborative divorce before you can begin traditional divorce proceedings.

Where Do I Begin?

If both you are your partner are set upon seeking a collaborative divorce, or are even considering it, the first step you need to take is finding a lawyer who is familiar with this process. During your initial meetings with your attorney, don't hesitate to state exactly what you want. This could be property, alimony or full custody of your children.

However, be aware that in order to continue with this type of divorce proceedings, chances are you will need to be flexible.

Once you and your lawyer have completed your preliminary work, you will begin meeting with your spouse and their attorney. These meetings might also include a mediator, settlement specialist, psychologist, parenting specialist and even an accountant. All of these professionals will be impartial and are there to work with you and your spouse to come to a fair and equitable agreement.

What Are the Benefits of a Collaborative Divorce?

The idea of a collaborative divorce might sound intriguing, but you still might not be sure if it's the right process for your family.

Before making any final decisions, consider a few of these further benefits of collaborative divorce:

  • One aspect of a traditional divorce you might not consider is your lack of privacy. Once you enter the courtroom, everything you say and all the decisions made by the judge are a matter of public record. Conversely, seeking a collaborative divorce allows you to keep you and your family out of the public eye, all together.

  • In many cases, a collaborative divorce is far less expensive, especially if you are able to solely work with your attorney to reach a fair settlement. If the services of other professionals are required, the costs are generally split between both spouses, as well.

  • Finally, if you choose a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse are in charge. During a traditional divorce, you are at the mercy of a judge who is bound by the laws of your state. Because you're meeting outside of the court system, you and your spouse can work together until you come to an agreement you both support.

Going through a divorce is messy under the best circumstances, and many times, airing your family's dirty laundry in court only makes an unfortunate situation even worse. If you'd rather keep your divorce a private matter, and want to work with your spouse in a less litigious setting, collaborative divorce proceedings might be the best solution.