Why Some Choose the Collaborative Divorce Approach
Some divorcing couples decide to part ways fairly amicably and only need legal help when it comes to filing their divorce papers. Others can’t agree on anything and need attorneys and judges to intervene in order to resolve their disputes.
Many, however, find themselves somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. They are willing to come to agreements about some issues outside of court, but not everything. For example, they may have differing ideas about how to settle things like property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support. But they don’t necessarily want to take these matters to court. For such couples, collaborative divorce provides a nice middle ground.
What Is the Difference Between Collaborative Divorce and Mediation?
The terms “collaborative divorce” and “mediation” are often used interchangeably. Yet while the two processes certainly share some similarities, they are actually not the same. Consider these differences:
- In mediation, conversations are mediated by a neutral third party, who is often not an attorney; in collaborative divorce, each party is represented by their own lawyer.
- In a collaborative divorce, parties enter what is called a participation agreement. A participation agreement states that both parties are committed to cooperating throughout the process, and refraining from using adversarial or aggressive techniques. It also states that parties pledge not to litigate disputes in court.
- In mediation, the mediator is responsible for facilitating conversation and acting as a peacemaker; in a collaborative divorce, each party’s lawyer is responsible for representing the best interests of their client. If collaborative divorce is unsuccessful, the lawyers withdraw from further representation of the parties as the case moves to litigation.
How Does Collaborative Divorce Work?
In a collaborative divorce, each party signs a collaborative agreement. The includes the collaborative divorce lawyers, you, and your spouse. In this agreement, they pledge not to threaten litigation and additionally, make pledges to:
- Honestly disclose all financial records;
- Use objective experts to settle questions related to the valuation of property;
- Settle custody questions without subjecting the other party to court-order forensic evaluations; and
- Focus their efforts on creating win/win situations for everyone.
Collaborative divorce works when both parties are far apart on some issues but want to resolve the divorce in as amicable a way as possible. The process employs collaborative legal experts, specialist experts such as financial appraisers, child psychologists, and others who have something to contribute to the proceedings.
What Happens If Discussions Break Down?
In cases where one or both parties violate the terms of the collaborative agreement, they must both find new lawyers to litigate the divorce on their behalf. Collaborative divorce lawyers will not use the threat of litigation as a tool to leverage the other party. Once that threat has been made, the collaborative process is void and the parties must begin again in litigation.
Why Do Couples Choose Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce is cost-efficient and effective. It allows couples to avoid the adversarial judicial system, which is often ill-equipped to handle the emotionally difficult process of ending a marriage. And it’s great for couples who would like to dissolve the marriage in a way that respects both parties and protects any family members involved. Divorce proceedings can be particularly hard on children.
The collaborative approach is also attractive to couples who would prefer to resolve their issues in a free, open, and informal way. It also allows you to:
- Decide how to handle disputes that may arise after a settlement,
- Come up with creative ways to solve problems and reach win-win results.
Is Collaborative Divorce Right for Me?
It is when both parties come to the table with roughly equal decision-making power. In cases where one spouse is responsible for all the important decisions, collaborative divorce may not be the best option. This is also true in cases where there are allegations of child or spousal abuse, collaborative divorce. An Albany NY collaborative divorce lawyer can assess your situation and help you determine whether the collaborative approach would benefit you.
What Are the Benefits of Choosing the Colwell Law Group, LLC?
At The Colwell Law Group, LLC, Attorney Kevin Colwell has completed training in collaborative divorce and is licensed to take on these cases. Mr. Colwell knows how to advocate for your best interests throughout the process, while also respecting you and your spouse’s agreement to resolve things without contention, and by working together.
We believe that when you are going through a divorce, you deserve a family law attorney who has the skills and experience to deliver the best outcome possible for your case. Experienced in divorce litigation and licensed in collaborative divorce, our legal team is ready to represent you.
If you have questions about collaborative divorce and want to learn more about the benefits and the process, please contact The Colwell Law Group, LLC today. Our talented Albany collaborative divorce lawyer can be reached by phone, or you can write us a message through our website.