The writing is on the wall, and may have been for some time now. You and your spouse have grown apart and now you both want a divorce. Of course emotions are high and blame may be going back and forth, but you recognize that it is time to move on. What many don’t know when it comes to divorce is that you have options. You and your spouse can go out and hire a “bulldog” attorney that may lead you to believe he or she can take your spouse to the cleaners. Your emotions may guide you that way, but what will likely happen is you’ll be in a long drawn out divorce that may last years which in turn costs a lot of money and ultimately, the outcome is decided by a judge who may have spent an hour or so reviewing your case. All the time, money and emotional stress can wreak havoc on your life. Instead I would offer an alternative to typical divorce proceeding called Collaborative Divorce.
Collaborative divorce can almost be described by its name. You along with your spouse and a team of professionals ranging from a financial expert, family therapist, to an attorney collaborate together to finish your divorce. The process works like this, you will each have your own attorney to represent your legal rights. You and your attorney will sign a contract that you are pursuing a collaborative divorce. In general terms you are agreeing not to go to court and voluntarily disclosure all information and act in good faith. The lawyers are agreeing that if a resolution is not achieved and the case ends up in litigation they must withdraw their representation.
The next step is determining what other professionals need to be hired as a neutral 3rd party. The most common are Certified Divorce Financial Analysts (CDFA’s), therapists, mediators and a life coach. You may be thinking “wow all these people are going to cost me a fortune” but remember everyone’s goal in a collaborative divorce is to work openly, negotiate and come to an agreement. These experts can help ease tensions when issues that cause contention come up. Everyone will be in the same room rather than in separate rooms where it may appear they are colluding. This saves a lot of back and forth and creates an environment for open discussions.
Collaborative divorce is not for everyone and isn’t guaranteed to work. However, when both parties can act civilly, agree they want this chapter of their life closed, and want to be as cost efficient as possible it may be a good fit. We have personally been involved in collaborative cases that were finalized harmoniously in a matter of weeks.