Resolving divorce disputes does not have to be a painful process. Both you and your spouse deserve the sort of attention that collaborative divorce attorneys can provide. But how does collaborative divorce work?
Under traditional adversarial models of family law, couples have “court battles” or “fight for custody” when there are children involved. When there are disagreements, couples must go in front of a judge and let the court make decisions about their children, their home, and their money.
Having someone else responsible for one’s divorce terms can often cause serious financial or family hardships, and it may be something that everyone will have to live with for an exceedingly long time. Collaborative lawyers, on the other hand, help a couple reach agreements that are more aligned with the best interest of all parties involved.
The traditional adversarial divorce process can be emotionally traumatic for the entire family. Sometimes a child must be interviewed about their feelings about their parents if there are disagreements about custody issues.
Traditional courtroom models often do not promote a healthy co-parenting relationship after separation and can increase conflict and bad feelings at the end of a relationship instead of beginning the healing process. In a Collaborative Divorce, the model is vastly different. A collaborative divorce attorney encourages cooperation and communication to find mutually beneficial resolutions to your problems.
Each party has an attorney who will advise them on their legal interests and assist them through the negotiation process. In addition, there are financial experts, divorce coaches, and family or child custody experts who are brought in to facilitate the process in a safe, supportive environment.
Financial neutrals help parties determine their assets, make budgets, and ensure all information regarding the parties’ financial circumstances are shared and considered as part of the process. Family or custody experts can meet with the children and help them process their feelings, and make sure the parents keep a healthy focus on their children when discussing parenting plans.
Meetings with attorneys and divorce coaches take place with the couple and their experts work toward solutions that will benefit the family.
The couple controls the process, not the courts. When agreements are reached, their lawyers write up the agreements, and the agreements become a part of the divorce settlement. You do not have to go to court or have a judge make decisions about your life when you reach a settlement agreement through the collaborative process.
The substance of the meetings and most of your divorce case will remain private, which some couples feel is very important. Your child does not have to be interviewed by a custody evaluator and can be sheltered from the conflict that children often feel in traditional divorce models.
The process of Collaborative Divorce can reduce much of the conflict and acrimony that many couples experience when going through a “court battle.” While most couples decide early on that they want to avoid court, it is never too late to lay down arms and decide that Collaborative Divorce is a better option. Many people find it much better once they commit to working cooperatively for the sake of their children, finances, and their own emotional health.
Both mediation and collaborative law attempt to get a couple to a cooperative agreement, but the processes are quite a bit different. In mediation, there is one attorney trained in mediation who does not represent either person but is a neutral party who helps direct the conversation, informs the parties of options and possible resolutions, and helps facilitate settlement.
Normally the couple will not have their attorneys present during mediation, and the mediator cannot give legal advice as part of the process. If a person involved with mediation needs legal advice, they will have to obtain a separate attorney to consult with them.
In a collaborative setting, it is not just the couple and a neutral participating, but a team that offers not just legal advice but also emotional support through coaches and assistance with gathering financial information so that informed decisions can be made at every step.
You can also find more information about Collaborative Practice here.
Darci McKean is an attorney with all the proper training to participate as an attorney during the Collaborative Divorce process and is a member in good standing of the Sacramento Collaborative Divorce Group. If this model sounds better than the adversarial court process, call and set up a consultation today at (916) 666-7874.