Increasingly, couples are looking to “collaborative law” as a more positive way to approach divorce. In a collaborative divorce, the spouses and their attorneys negotiate a divorce settlement without going to court. The focus is on resolving issues through open communication and cooperation.
If you can’t stand to be in the same room as your soon-to-be ex-spouse, a collaborative divorce probably isn’t for you. But if you can discuss issues in a respectful manner, you may find a collaborative divorce is a faster, cheaper and less emotionally draining way to end your marriage.
In the Collaborative process, both sides agree to seek “win-win” answers to divorce problems. Each spouse has a collaborative attorney who works as a team. Husband’s and wife’s teams communicate openly with one another rather than hide behind expensive and time consuming legal formalities.
Advantages of Collaborative Law
In a traditional divorce, a judge makes the decisions and controls the proceedings. A big advantage of a collaborative divorce is that you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse take control of the decisions and proceedings. Collaborative divorce law can also be less stressful as it generates much less fear and anxiety than court proceedings.
The Participation Agreement
The participation agreement is a key feature of collaborative divorce. Both spouses and their lawyers sign this agreement. It typically requires everyone to agree:
- Everyone involved in the collaborative process is committed to negotiating a divorce agreement without going to court;
- Each party will share information freely;
- If experts are necessary, all parties will agree upon neutral experts who are hired jointly by the parties;
- Each party will avoid stonewalling the negotiations;
- If a party breaks the participation agreement, the collaborative attorneys may withdraw and be replaced by traditional divorce attorneys.
Steps in the collaborative process include:
- Full disclosure. A first step is to disclose your assets and income. You should voluntarily share this information and verify it with documentation and tax returns;
- Four-way conferences. You, your spouse, and your lawyers (and sometimes other neutral professionals) meet to discuss the issues and seek ways to reach compromise;
- Draft an agreement. Your lawyers will draft legal documents that detail your agreements. These legally binding documents are then submitted to the court for approval without you ever having to go to the court house.
Settling your custody or divorce case collaboratively is cheaper than a costly court battle. The collaborative divorce process provides a formal, yet productive approach to settling your divorce.
At Leibenguth Law, we are dedicated to saving you time and money. There is such a thing as a cheap divorce! A collaborative divorce may be the answer for your family.