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While divorce proceedings can be angry and explosive, peaceful alternatives to litigation do exist. Collaborative law is a substitute for the divorce litigation process and allows the parties to work outside the Court system to resolve their case. In a collaborative case, the parties agree and sign a contract not to go to Court for any reason. The parties agree that there will be open "discovery" and either party can see any document necessary for his or her case. However, if the parties do become stuck and cannot resolve the case outside of Court the parties have to find new attorneys and start the Court process from scratch.
Collaborative divorce may sound strange because when you think “divorce,” you don’t usually associate it with collaboration. In a divorce, you usually picture two angry spouses duking it out in court over child custody, alimony, and division of property. However, collaborative divorce is a very real thing and it can actually result in a more satisfactory divorce.
The purpose of collaborative divorce is to resolve disputes outside of court. Obviously, this means that both spouses must be ready and willing to negotiate, but it can result in a fair and balanced dissolution agreement. Yes, it is going to take a lot of effort by both parties, but the final result can be tailored to meet the needs of both spouses and their children.
Collaborative Divorce vs. Mediation
Collaborative law is a process that often incorporates the use of psychologists, financial planners, and other outside experts in resolving the terms of the divorce or family case. Similar to mediation, the process also primarily takes place outside the Court system, where both parties, their counsel, and the aforementioned experts discuss mutually agreeable terms of the divorce.
Unlike mediation, there is no neutral third party helping with discussions. Instead, it simply involves two spouses and their attorneys, with the focus to work together and reach a settlement that benefits everyone. Each spouse gets the chance to discuss what they want and then meetings are scheduled for negotiations. Depending on how much needs to be resolved, the process can be rather quick or take a bit of time—it varies, case by case. Again, the biggest difference between mediation and the collaborative process is that you cannot go to Court for any reason under the collaborative process.
Along with it being much more cooperative and positive than going to court, a collaborative divorce can take less time and cost less money than a traditional divorce. Going to court also leaves the judge with the ultimate decision, and with the nuances of a divorce, both parties will never really get what they both want. In a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse get to choose every single aspect of your settlement.
In any family law situation, the emotional well-being and psychological health of children and parents are important. However, collaborative law is not for everyone or for every case. If you are interested in determining whether collaborative law may work for you, contact Attorney Winner to discuss the intricacies of your case.