Ending a divorce can be a lengthy and costly legal process with disputes over difficult issues such as child custody support and property division. The collaborative divorce process, however, gives spouses the opportunity to determine their own resolution over these issues and reduce divorce conflicts and costs.
In a collaborative divorce, the spouses negotiate an agreement with the assistance of their lawyers and other professional help such as an accountant or child custody specialist. Each spouse hires their own attorney who advises them and helps them negotiate. Spouses meet separately with their own attorney and then the parties have regular negotiating sessions.
Spouses and their attorneys typically agree that the attorney will withdraw from the case if the parties cannot agree to a settlement and the divorce goes to court. Spouses will have to obtain another attorney to represent when this occurs.
A judge will have to approve any agreement that the spouses negotiate. This will likely occur at a brief, uncontested and relatively uncomplicated proceeding.
A collaborative divorce can reduce costs and conflict in many ways. First, it allows the spouses to enter a temporary agreement that can provide stability as they undergo divorce.
Spouses can also voluntarily exchange financial information without making threats or undergoing legal procedures. Likewise, they may agree on legal procedures that reduce costs and complexity.
Spouses can negotiate an agreement that addresses their needs and determine the outcome instead of having a decision being imposed upon them by a judge. Their agreement may also govern the handling of post-divorce issues.
This process can help save time and money. An attorney can assist spouses through their process and explore other options such as mediation.