When many of us think of divorce, our minds turn to the sensationalized courtroom dramas depicted in movies as examples of how things will likely play out. We may have even heard first-hand accounts from people we know who bickered with their spouses over every little detail. Granted, someone eventually got what they wanted, but no one left feeling like a winner. Needless to say, we cannot blame you if the idea of a collaborative divorce where both spouses amicably work out their differences seems far-fetched.
If you are wondering if collaborative divorce is possible, let us be the first to tell you that it is. Marriages end peacefully all the time and do not remotely come close to reaching a courtroom. They simply never get talked about because, well, where is the drama in that?
What is collaborative divorce, exactly?
Litigation can make sense for divorcing couples who will never see eye to eye on a variety of important issues, especially if they have different ideas on child custody or one spouse isn’t on a level playing field financially or emotionally. But for other couples who do not mind working together, collaborative divorce is a healthier alternative. With this process, couples peacefully negotiate all the terms of their divorce (debt division, custody, spousal support, property division, etc.) in a neutral setting with their attorneys present. Each spouse must hire an attorney skilled in collaborative divorce who also wishes for a win-win scenario for all parties.
Each issue is dealt with and discussed one by one throughout one or several meetings. The attorneys will guide the process, and when a settlement has been reached, everything is put in writing and signed by both parties.
Benefits to a collaborative divorce include but are not limited to:
- Peaceful and controlled conversations
- All parties feel like they are in control
- Win-win for all parties vs. win-lose
- No courtrooms
- Faster agreements
- More privacy
- Less likelihood of post-divorce litigation
- More cost-efficient than litigation
- Less stress, anxiety, and frustration
- The ability to go your separate ways quicker
With all of this being said, some clients have asked if it is possible for collaborative divorce proceedings to break down? Of course. It is very important to note that the only way collaborative divorce works is if both parties agree in advance to a peaceful resolution and stick to the course throughout the process. The mindset should always be that any detail can be worked out. If not, and negotiations break down, the only solution is to settle your differences in court.
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