Guide to Collaborative Divorce

There are usually three primary routes for resolving issues that are present in dissolving a marriage: through mediation, through traditional divorce litigation, or through collaborative divorce. The following provides a brief primer on this last route, including information about what it is and when to choose it.

What is collaborative divorce?

Collaborative divorce is a method of resolving common disputes in a divorce – how property will be divided, the amount of spousal support payments, who will have custody of the children, etc. – without having to endure the traditional courtroom battles most people dread. Instead, divorcing parties and their lawyers agree to meet and settle divorce issues in a non-adversarial manner.

The biggest difference between a mediated divorce and a collaborative divorce is that in the former, layers are rarely used, and in the latter, the parties all enter into a participation agreement.

Understanding a Participation Agreement for Collaborative Divorce

A participation agreement is one of the most essential aspects of a collaborative divorce. The agreement is an actual contract that all parties wishing to participate in a divorce (the divorcing couple and their lawyers) must enter into.

While each participation agreement varies slightly, the general gist of each is that:

The participation agreement helps to ensure that all parties are on the same page regarding the tactics that will be used when resolving disputes, and are aware of each parties' rights.

The Benefits of Collaborative Divorce

The benefits of collaborative divorce are many. From a financial standpoint, they're often much less costly than traditional divorces, as they completely bypass court fees incurred during litigation.

Collaborative divorce also allows the divorcing couple to make their own decisions about parenting plans, division of assets, etc., rather than having a judge make those decisions for them.

And finally, collaborative divorce is often less stressful. Not only are collaborative divorces less time consuming, but they rarely result in explosive battles and hurt feelings between the separating parties, as both agree in advance to resolve things amicably.

When Collaborative Divorce Doesn't Work

Collaborative divorce can be the perfect forum for divorcing individuals to hone their communication and negotiation skills, patience and ability to compromise. However, collaborative divorce isn't always successful. When it fails, a couple may choose to end their marriage in the more traditional format instead. If this is the case, a divorce and family law judge will be responsible for making decisions about the couples' property, assets, children, and spousal support payments for them.

Speak with an Attorney Immediately

If you and your spouse are seeking a divorce, you should consider collaborative divorce as an effective alternative to divorce litigation. To begin, meet with a collaborative divorce attorney near you.

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