When you hear the word ‘divorce’, most people would imagine a hostile battle in court. But it does not have to be that way. A collaborative divorce is a different approach that requires the legal assistance of an attorney. But how does it work? And what are the benefits of collaborative divorce?
What is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce is as the name suggests. It’s when the two parties take a non-adversarial approach in the divorce process. Both spouses work with an attorney specializing in divorce and collaborative law. Both parties and their respective attorneys will meet to discuss the arrangements for the divorce. It’s a series of meetings that will enable both parties to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
According to the law, the following are the ground rules and principles for collaborative divorce:
- You must negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement to avoid taking the divorce case to court.
- You must openly share and communicate about the divorce process and settlement with both parties.
- You must establish shared solutions and acknowledge the priorities of each party.
You must honor these rules to facilitate a seamless divorce process that benefits all parties.
Collaborative divorce is also different from mediation or arbitration.
What Are the Benefits of Collaborative Divorce?
Both parties can enjoy the benefits of collaborative divorce if they follow the principles of this legal process. It works to the best of everyone’s interest, which gives an added incentive to go through a collaborative divorce.
- It helps you save money.
One of the most apparent benefits of collaborative divorce is that it costs less than if you had to take your divorce case to court. It’s common knowledge that divorce settlement is expensive. Between the attorney fees and the various court settlements, you must do your best to avoid going to court.
Engaging in a collaborative divorce process is the best route to make that happen. The savings come from not just avoiding court but also in terms of alimony payments and child support. In addition, when involved in a less hostile divorce process, both parties can reasonably agree on terms that would be mutually beneficial.
- It helps you save time.
In addition to saving money, a collaborative divorce is also time-saving. You won’t have to go through months (or years!) of court hearings. Instead, you can openly meet and discuss those terms privately until you can establish a common resolution.
Depending on what you’ve agreed on and the individual needs of each party, the matter could be settled by a collaborative law attorney in a few weeks.
- It is less stressful for both parties.
The savings in time and money can also lead to another beneficial impact – stress-free divorce. While collaborative divorce does not guarantee that everything will be plain sailing, it is more advantageous to the traditional divorce process because it subjects you to less stress.
Even amicable divorces can be stressful because you have no way to predict what the other party’s next move will be. However, a collaborative divorce requires that both parties should stay open in their communication with each other. This open communication guarantees you know what to expect and can openly share your needs with your ex-spouse. Omitting the unknown from the equation helps you to have a stress-free divorce.
- You have more control over the outcome.
Since you openly communicate and collaborate with your ex-spouse in the divorce process, it helps you control the outcome. You can negotiate and discuss the divorce terms and settlements with each other. Therefore, you can highlight your priorities in the negotiation rather than leave it up to the court to decide.
For this reason, couples who go through a collaborative divorce process enjoy higher satisfaction levels.
- You can maintain your privacy.
One of the uglier aspects of taking your divorce to court is that it airs your dirty laundry in public. Hostile divorce cases can lead to one spouse trying to ruin the other’s reputation. As a result, they will do their best to discredit your personality as an individual or parent (if you have children).
On the other hand, a collaborative divorce does not play out in a public courtroom. Instead, it happens in the privacy of your meetings with your ex-spouse and their attorney. The entire process is private and confidential so that you can handle everything out of the public eye.
- It enables you to set the timeline of your divorce case.
As mentioned above, finalizing a divorce case takes months or years. But one of the benefits of collaborative divorce is that you have control over the entire process. You can settle it in weeks if you handle the negotiations smoothly and agree to the terms of your divorce.
You can set your own timetable for the collaborative divorce process instead of relying on the court’s timeline.
- It can help you preserve your relationship.
Divorce cases involving children can get ugly quickly, especially if the couple fights to gain child custody. Collaborative divorce is different because you can communicate and cooperate. You are on the same side instead of fighting against each other. It helps foster communication and cooperation so you don’t destroy your relationship.
If you choose to go the collaborative divorce route, working with an attorney or law office specializing in collaborative law is essential. The process is non-binding, so ensure everything is signed before it’s all executed. If you cannot settle, you must work individually and take the case to a trial.
A specialized attorney or law office ensures they have in-depth knowledge and experience in resolving family law problems like divorce. Their legal guidance also ensures that you can maximize the benefits of collaborative divorce and that both parties can have a positive experience. If properly executed, it is highly effective because it provides a free and non-adversarial environment to build solutions for both parties.