Collaborative family law is a relatively new process of ending a marriage. A collaborative divorce process is a combination of divorce mediation and a traditional divorce with attorneys.
The goal is to create a win-win solution that meets the needs of both sides without litigation. 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. While it can be challenging to let your anger and resentment go, if it is possible to dissolve your marriage peacefully, why not give it a chance?
That said, both parties need to be committed to the process for the process to work. If you are married to someone who has to win at any cost, a collaborative divorce will probably not work.
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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.
At the beginning of the process, both parties and their attorneys sign a “participation agreement.” As a result of this agreement, the attorneys are disqualified from representing either party in court if the collaborative process isn’t successful.
Generally, both parties will meet with their attorneys separately and discuss what they want to achieve. Examples include how to handle child custody and financial support.
Another example is determining who will stay in the family home. This can be one of the spouses or the children. In this scenario, the parents will alternate staying at the home and leaving when the other parent is responsible for the children’s care. This provides stability and continuity and is less disruptive to the children.
The division of all assets and liabilities, such as:
1. Bank accounts, including checking and savings accounts
2. Investment accounts
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, profit sharing plans, 401Ks, IRAs, etc.
9. Personal possessions (clothing, jewelry, furniture, etc.)
11. Family pets
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The Analysis of Income and Expenses
A critical decision, especially if one spouse’s income is significantly higher than the other’s, is the determination of alimony and child support.
In addition, you must determine how expenses, including debt payments, will be paid.
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Once both parties know their goals, both partners and their attorneys will meet. These meetings may include financial advisors, psychologists, 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 knowing that all parties are committed to a peaceful resolution
- Saves time and reduces the cost of a divorce
- Reduces the risk of a bitter and contentious dispute
- 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
While collaborative divorce is a relatively new process, it is a very popular alternative that can make a difficult situation easier for all parties, including the children.
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.
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