For many people, the divorce process can seem far too adversarial and contentious when litigation is involved. While the traditional litigation process for divorce works for some, others find it destructive and damaging when attempting to maintain an amicable relationship with a former spouse. Spouses may aim to dissolve their marriage in a harmonious manner to maintain a peaceful relationship for their children, other extended family members, or for their own emotional well-being. This makes collaborative divorce a very attractive option.
Additionally, many spouses wish for an efficient and inexpensive process for their divorce. The collaborative process effectively allows spouses to move at their own pace without the procedural delays involved in litigation. Further, the elimination of court costs and attorney fees for court appearances and filings allows for a much less expensive avenue for solving problems during a divorce.
In a collaborative divorce:
- Both spouses have attorneys to ensure their rights are effectively advocated and they understand the legal aspects involved in their matter;
- Attorneys aim to eliminate any courtroom hearings, stating of claims, listing of grievances, or very formal processes of discovery;
- Spouses and their attorneys work as a team to establish the parties’ collective and individual goals for the dissolution of the marriage;
- The spouses engage in direct and open exchange of ideas and information for honest and efficient problem-solving;
- The teams select proposals that meet the needs of both spouses.
Both spouses and their teams will meet to discuss the spouses’ issues and any obstacles to solving problems and coming to a collaborative solution. The spouses must also sign a collaborative agreement stating that all matters will be resolved without a contested trial, bettering communication and disclosure between the couple.
Should either spouse want to take the case to court at any time, both attorneys must cease the collaborative process and may no longer represent the parties. This discourages both parties from pursuing the option of going to trial, as they strive to resolve any disputes through mutual agreement. This also ensures that both parties are completely honest about their intentions in entering the collaborative process as they face having to retain new counsel should the case go to trial.
The collaborative process is meant for parties to meet their needs through honest communication using their own timeline. Spouses can maintain dignified relationships with one another for the benefit of their loved ones while minimizing the financial and emotional strain of fighting tooth and nail in court. Parties open to direct communication about shared and individual goals should consider the collaborative process during their divorce to avoid litigation with an aim at meeting both spouses needs and interests in an amicable manner.