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Understanding the collaborative divorce process

For those who do not want to seek out and destroy their former partner, the collaborative divorce process is worth considering.
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    March 16, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The stereotype that surrounds divorce is the "Kramer vs. Kramer" or "War of the Roses" style break up, a heated, adversarial process that pits one spouse against the other. This notion may make you feel like a peaceful divorce is unattainable. But, all divorces do not have to be adversarial. For those who do not want to seek out and destroy their former partner, the collaborative divorce process is worth considering - especially if you have children or if your finances will have to be intertwined for a period of time after the divorce is over.

Collaborative divorce: Different than traditional divorce

In a traditional divorce case, the parties rely on the court to resolve disputes, which quickly leads to parties viewing each other as rivals. The collaborative process completely takes the divorce out of the courtroom and calls upon the parties to pledge not to go to court, agree to the free flow of information, and agree to respect the shared goals of the parties.

The collaborative process itself is a voluntary dispute resolution process that differs from mediation--which may come to mind when collaborative divorce is mentioned. In the collaborative process the parties sign a collaborative agreement that outlines the matter and scope of the matter to be resolved. The parties express their goals for themselves and their children. Frequently, there are universal goals that both parties share. The parties also agree to voluntarily disclose all material information relevant to the matter and agree to move forward in negotiations with good faith to reach a mutually acceptable settlement. Each party is still represented by an attorney, but the parties agree their legal representation terminates if the parties decide to take the matter to court. During the negotiations, the parties may use financial and mental health professionals or other experts as deemed necessary. No matter who is selected to be part of their professional team, in a collaborative divorce all the members of their team are working toward the unified goals that the parties share at the beginning of their process.

Your collaborative divorce team consists of your lawyer trained in the collaborative process and may also include divorce coaches, a neutral financial professional, a child specialist, or other specialists you and your spouse would find beneficial. Your spouse will also have his or her own lawyer. If both parties agree to collaborative divorce, the parties meet privately for face-to-face talks that include both of the parties' attorneys. As needed, experts may be drafted into the process, and all meetings are meant to create an honest flow of information that addresses the needs of the parties, especially children. Throughout the process, the collaborative team addresses the issues of the divorce as problem-solvers, and attempts to minimize hostility by building on areas of agreement with a focus on using a respectful tone during exchanges.

Collaborative divorce: Different than mediation

The collaborative process differs from mediation in that mediation uses a neutral third party to assist in negotiations and help the parties settle their case. During mediation sessions, your attorney may or may not be present, and the mediator cannot give legal advice or be an advocate for either party. If an agreement is reached during mediation, the mediator creates the draft of the settlement for review by the parties' attorneys.

During the collaborative process, both parties' attorneys are present during negotiation, to keep the focus on settlement. The lawyers who are trained in collaborative law also work with one another to come to a resolution. When an agreement is reached through the collaborative process the attorneys of both parties draft the agreement document and you and your spouse review and edit the agreement.

The collaborative process allows for a great deal of control and creates an environment of respect in which to settle divorce issues. People who go through the collaborative divorce process tend to have a higher satisfaction with their divorce settlements than those who do not go through the process. And, they tend to create a relatively solid foundation of communication with their former spouse which may serve them in the future. If you are considering divorce and prefer to work with your spouse to reach a divorce settlement, contact a family law attorney experienced in the collaborative process.

Article provided by DuBois Cary Law Group, PLLC
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