A collaborative divorce is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Divorce mediation is also a form of ADR. ADR enables couples who are divorcing to settle their difference and negotiate the terms of their divorce outside of court. Rather than engaging in a likely contentious litigious battle, couples can work together with a Springfield collaborative divorce lawyer on a mutually beneficial separation agreement that both spouses have a say in.
Collaborative divorces can be useful for spouses who wish to collaborate and those who may have a contentious relationship. Parties can negotiate important terms such as child support, property division, custody, and spousal support. In collaborative divorces, each spouse has their own legal counsel, protecting their rights and interests throughout the process.
The Process of a Collaborative Divorce
No two collaborative divorces will look exactly the same, but certain expected steps in collaborative divorce are the following:
- Both spouses find an attorney to negotiate on their behalf. Spouses and attorneys meet to sign an agreement consenting to the collaborative divorce process.
- Spouses meet separately with their attorneys to outline their goals in the collaborative divorce process and the terms they wish to have in the separation agreement. They can also make clear where they are willing to compromise and where they are not.
- Negotiations are held over several days, weeks, or months. Any terms the couple wants in the separation agreement can be discussed, including typical aspects like property division or parenting plans and issues unique to the couple’s marriage.
- Once the separation agreement is finalized, it is submitted to the court. If the agreement is determined to be fair to both spouses and in the interests of any children, the judge will make the agreement an official court order that can be enforced.
The Advantages of a Collaborative Divorce
There are several benefits to a collaborative divorce, including:
- Less Costly and Time-Consuming
A divorce handled through court is expensive and could take years to finalize.
Collaborative divorces and other ADR methods can usually reach a conclusion much more quickly than divorces resolved in court. While the legal process pits spouses as adversaries, collaborative divorce allows spouses to work together. Spouses also do not have to wait on the court’s schedule and availability to negotiate their divorce.
Legal counsel for collaborative divorces typically has less expensive rates, and spouses do not have court costs. Because litigious divorces take longer, this also increases the costs.
- Less Public
An in-court divorce is part of the public record, including all negotiations and arguments for the final divorce agreement. The process of collaborative divorce is not public. Not only is this often better for the entire family, but it also can make spouses more comfortable discussing important but potentially sensitive matters.
- More Control Over the Outcome
A divorce resolved in court is entirely under the control of the family court judge. The judge will listen to each spouse’s side but will ultimately have the final say in the awarding of spousal support, decisions regarding a parenting plan, and the division of property. For many individuals, this is very overwhelming.
In a collaborative divorce, spouses have the final say in their separation agreement. Spouses understand the needs of their families and often feel much more satisfied with the outcome of a collaborative divorce. The future of their family is in their control.
- Less Stressful for the Entire Family
Court dates are stressful and overwhelming for both spouses and any children they have. Collaborative divorce is often much easier on children and other members of the family. In a litigious divorce, children may have to provide court testimony, which can be very stressful.
Collaborative divorces are also helpful for spouses with children because they help them work together in their children’s interests. This is a strong beginning for any co-parenting relationship.
Q: What Is the Downside of Collaborative Divorce?
A: Similar to other forms of alternative dispute resolution, collaborative divorce is only useful if you and your spouse are willing and able to reach a compromise and resolution together. If spouses can’t create a separation agreement that is fair in the eyes of the court or that both parties agree to, the divorce will have to start from scratch.
If you and your spouse attempt a collaborative divorce and can’t reach a conclusion, you both waste significant time, energy, and money. Spouses who are not willing to work together will not find much use in the collaborative divorce process.
Q: What Is a Benefit of Collaborative Divorce?
A: Collaborative divorce, like mediation, allows a divorcing couple to avoid litigation and court dates. There are several benefits to avoiding litigation. This includes saving time and money, limiting stress, reaching a private solution, and having more control over the outcome of your divorce.
In court, the final say in how your divorce is managed is in the hands of the judge. Avoiding court also gives you more flexibility and control over the actual negotiations of your separation agreement rather than relying on court schedules.
Q: Is Traditional Divorce Less Expensive and Time-Consuming than a Collaborative Divorce?
A: No, a traditional or in-court divorce is not less expensive and time-consuming. A divorce that goes through court is more expensive and typically takes much longer. A collaborative divorce may take a few months to negotiate, while a litigious divorce can take many months to several years, depending on the complexity. A litigious divorce has court costs and higher attorney fees, while a collaborative divorce has fewer costs.
Q: What Are the Advantages of Separation instead of Divorce?
A: For some couples, separation is the beginning step to divorce. Legal separation can enable spouses to determine if they truly want to get a divorce. It allows spouses to separate their assets, live separately, and decide what they each want from life. Separation may also be useful for couples who want a divorce but don’t meet their state’s residency requirements.
Separation can also be obtained as a final step. This allows couples to live separately and determine some aspects typical of divorce while remaining legally married. This can provide tax benefits, health insurance benefits, and retirement benefits.
Determine the Right Legal Path for You
Collaborative divorce has many benefits for divorcing couples, but it may not be the right option for your divorce. If you don’t know the right legal route for your divorce, the experienced attorneys at Stange Law Firm can help. Contact our team today.