Fact: there are many lawyers out there who make these fears and stereotypes a reality. But there are also lawyers who pride themselves in making the process of divorce as painless and as peaceful as possible. These lawyers are the ones who practice what is known as “collaborative divorce”.
What is it? It’s when the couple works together with their attorneys to come to a resolution in a positive and results-oriented way.
Individuals can agree on all details, come to a resolution, and never step foot in a courtroom. This is very attractive to many.
What happens in collaborative divorce?
A collaborative lawyer can only work in a collaborative divorce setting.
If the couple becomes contentious, refuses to bend or compromise, or makes it clear that they cannot work together, the lawyer must recuse (excuse oneself from a case). Lawyers who handle traditional divorce must then take over.
This should also be a wakeup call or a defining moment for the couple. Each person should look at their role at why the relationship didn’t work out. This time, they should be willing to try more productively and positively to settle things.
When a couple enters a collaborative divorce setting, they start by signing a contract. This contract is a written commitment stating a promise to practice good faith and fair-mindedness in their interactions and negotiations.
They also promise to be transparent with all documentation, finances, and needed paperwork. The couple and their lawyers meet in a neutral setting. There is NO third-party mediator involved. It is simply the couple with their collaborative attorneys – and a promise by all to be constructive and open-minded in their dealings.
Working in good faith and with a cooperative mindset is best for each member of the couple, their children, and all their futures. No one wants to go through negotiations only to have them implode – making you start over with new attorneys, and from a more argumentative stand-point.
Why enter a collaborative divorce setting?
Collaborative divorce gives each party a chance to listen more than they argue, to explain themselves without the fear of being judged. Each person can explain what they feel they need and why. Collaborative attorneys are then able to suggest solutions to meet each person’s needs in a fair and equitable way.
Another benefit of this process is the ability to bring in additional resources as needed. This helps keep the process moving forward in a productive way, keeping all information out in the open for everyone. Some of these resources can include a therapist, an accountant, and an assessor.
With the couple working with these experts, they know that everything is above board, and that they are getting the best information to base their decisions on.
If you’re about to split up, collaborative divorce is something that you should truly consider – especially if children are involved.
It takes much of the anger and hostile feelings out of the process. It also gets both members of the couple working towards the same goals. Each person can be heard and understood in a way they may not have been with traditional divorce proceedings.
Many couples I have known who have gone this route have been very grateful that they made this decision. It made a difficult process and situation as amenable as possible. Collaborative divorce lets each person walk away with some dignity and respect for themselves – as well as their ex-partner.