People who have chosen to obtain a divorce through Collaborative Law have described its benefits in these ways:
- You helped me work collaboratively...in a reasonable way so that my spouse and I could remain friendly through the process and still come out better off than I was afraid I would be.
- The divorce was not easy but this process has left me and my ex-husband able to collaborate and even remain very friendly.
- I can’t thank you enough for all you did for me and how you always kept my wife’s best interest in mind. I believe that this divorce was done in the kindest possible way.
A conventional divorce is usually one that is litigated through the court system. Collaborative Law divorce is very different. Some important differences include:
A mediator is a neutral who helps guide clients to an agreement but does not represent either party or make decisions for them. The parties often consult with attorneys outside the mediation sessions. In Collaborative Law, each party is represented by an attorney who is present at all negotiation meetings.
Major advantages include:
Challenges, such as those listed below, do not necessarily prevent you and your spouse from engaging in Collaborative Law, but they do require the Collaborative professionals to be especially skillful in working with you and your spouse.
Some of the difficulties that may arise in a Collaborative case include:
No. Collaborative Law is designed to work for all types of cases, from simple to very difficult. The appropriateness of Collaborative Law is not related to the complexity of a case. The range of issues addressed through Collaborative Law include those that must be addressed in any divorce: asset valuation and division, spousal and child support, college costs, taxes, health and life insurance, parenting plan, and business interests.
No divorce process is inexpensive unless it involves a very short-term marriage with no children or divisible property. Experienced Collaborative professionals note that the cost of a Collaborative divorce is not substantially different from the cost of divorce mediation in which each party is represented by counsel. Experience has also hown that the cost of a Collaborative divorce is almost always significantly less than a litigated divorce. The goal of Collaborative Law is to achieve an agreement that will last – this means that the agreement will anticipate the family’s future needs.
Collaborative Law cases cannot proceed unless both parties retain attorneys trained in Collaborative Law and the attorneys, clients, and coach/facilitator sign a Collaborative Process Agreement.
Collaborative Law is entirely voluntary. Either party may withdraw from the process by giving notice to the other, and the Collaborative case ends. Each Collaborative attorney assists his or her client in transitioning the case to successor counsel.
Once a settlement is reached, the attorneys draft an agreement that reflects the decisions made by the parties. A finalized agreement is submitted to the Court for approval in an uncontested hearing.