Divorce is not generally considered to be a pleasant experience. But compared to the stress, conflict and expense of litigation, collaborative divorce presents a potentially more manageable option for getting through the process.
What is collaborative divorce?
Unlike the traditional litigation model, which is often characterized by prolonged courtroom fighting, collaborative divorce allows couples more control over the outcome of the divorce, and often at a lower cost. Each spouse has their own attorney. The spouses and their attorneys then meet at an agreed upon location to hash out the details of the divorce outside of the courtroom.
What are the benefits?
Collaborative divorce can provide a degree of privacy that is important to some couples, particularly if they are well-known in the community or have significant assets. Collaborative divorce also allows each spouse more control over the outcome, than if the matter were fully litigated and a judge makes the final decision. Collaborative divorce also sets a tone that encourages communication, and can help ease future tensions with your ex-spouse.
Who should not do collaborative divorce?
If your relationship has a history of abuse or volatility, or trust is an issue between you, collaborative divorce may not be a practical option. Collaborative divorce assumes equality and honesty between spouses, and in the context of a controlling, abusive or manipulative relationship, the power differential between the spouses may prevent the process from working as it should. It is also worth noting that if collaborative divorce talks break down, then each spouse has to retain a different lawyer and proceed to litigation. Ultimately, this change of course may end up costing more than it would have cost just to start with litigation first.
Evaluate your situation carefully
An experienced family law attorney can help you evaluate your options in the context of your relationship with your spouse. While collaborative divorce can be a great option for some couples, it is not for everybody, and in some circumstances can backfire.