Collaborative law is a process for ending a marriage. In includes a team of professionals trained in non-ligated dispute resolution. A collaborative divorce process combines divorce mediation and a traditional divorce with attorneys.
The team may include other specialists, including:
- A financial specialists or advisor or coach with financial expertise
- Divorce coach
- Child specialist (as the voice of the children)
- Collaborative lawyer
- Mental health professionals such as a therapist
The goal of your team of experts is to work together to reach a plan that works for all parties.
These neutral experts will help you fairly divide assets and property division.
The goal is to dissolve the marriage in a peaceful manner that works for all parties.
Collaborative divorce attorneys and the advisors who support the dissolution commit to resolving conflict, not creating it.
It is generally less costly and a more peaceful alternative than battling it out in court.
It requires a commitment to the process by all parties. If you are married to someone who has to win at any cost, a collaborative divorce will probably not work.
The Collaborative Divorce Process
In a collaborative divorce, both parties must be willing to negotiate in good faith and agree not to take the case to court. Both parties sign a “participation agreement.
The attorneys are disqualified from representing either party in court if the collaborative process doesn’t work.
Generally, both parties will meet with their attorneys separately and discuss what they want to achieve. Examples include how to handle child custody, financial support, and who will stay in the family home. Then the parties and all professionals will meet together in a team format to create the divorce settlement agreements.
The division of all assets and liabilities may include:
1. Bank accounts, including checking and savings accounts
2. Investment accounts, including stock options and RSU’s (restricted stock units)
3. Insurance policies, including disability, life, and long-term care
4. Property (including real estate and the family home)
5. Social Security benefits (if applicable)
7. Debt, including loans, mortgages, and credit cards
8. Retirement planning, including pension plans, 401Ks, IRAs, etc.
9. Personal possessions (clothing, jewelry, furniture, etc.)
11. Family pets
Divorce can be lonely and difficult. If you or a loved one have questions about divorce planning or other financial matters, click here:
The Analysis of Income and Expenses
A critical decision is the determination of alimony and child support.
In addition, the parties need to agree on how expenses will be paid.
A financial plan can provide you with the majority of financial information you need to prepare for a divorce.
The team’s CFP®, CDFA®, financial advisor, or attorney will help you prepare and provide settlement options.
Once both parties know their goals, they, along with their attorneys, will meet. These meetings may include financial advisors, psychologists, therapists, meditators, and other experts.
In certain situations, a trained mediator may assist the parties if they are having trouble reaching an agreement. The parties assisting the attorneys and clients are neutral and committed to settling the divorce without going to trial.
Benefits of Collaborative Divorce
There are many benefits of an amicable dissolution.
Examples may include:
- Faster and more efficient than traditional divorce
- Less stress
- Saves time and reduces the cost of a divorce
- Fosters continuing relationships with family and friends
- Can design solutions for unmarried parents, same-gender couples, and non-traditional relationships
- Reduces the risk disputes
- Allows for more control over the outcome. Therefore, it is easier for everyone affected by it.
- Maintains privacy
- Reduces the emotional toll for all involved parties, especially children
Conclusion: What is Collaborative Divorce
Collaborative divorce is an effective alternative to litigation, making a difficult situation easier for all parties, including the children. Some couples have shared that the team approach of Collaborative divorce is like “divorce with a hug.”
And while a divorce is rarely easy, if it is possible to choose an amicable dissolution, why not? The benefits of working together with your ex-spouse or parent of your children can last long after you are divorced.
If you or someone you know needs additional support, download our free Divorce Survival Guide: