The Advantages of Collaborative Divorce for Families

Collaborative divorce is a cooperative alternative to a possibly contentious, court-focused divorce process. Learn more about collaborative divorce here.

Silhouetted figures split down the middle with child in backdrop
Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers

August 21, 2023 04:57 PM

A traditional divorce can be financially and emotionally draining. This type of divorce can mean spending time in court and working through complex negotiations. At the same time, both parties often have to adjust to major life and lifestyle changes.

This process starts with a lawsuit filed by one partner. That can quickly create an adversarial relationship between the couple. That perspective can carry through into litigation and, if needed, a trial.

Instead of working together to both parties' benefit, couples sometimes focus on “winning” the divorce. This kind of perspective can extend an already long and draining process.

Traditional divorce may also involve high costs. The price of legal services over a long period of time can be significant. With assets already being divided to create two separate households, it’s another complication to keep in mind.

Couples thinking about divorce should know that alternatives to this process exist. Options such as collaborative divorce focus on cooperation between the couple. Such an approach can lower the cost of divorce and give both parties more control over the results.

Keep reading for a closer look at collaborative law divorce. You’ll find a more detailed review of the process, as well as benefits of this alternative type of dispute resolution.

What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce centers on negotiation. This approach leads to the same type of final result as a traditional divorce. The difference is in the path taken to reach that result.

Both parties work with professionals, including but not limited to collaborative divorce attorneys, to negotiate and compromise. Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute explains that cooperation is a key part of this type of divorce.

To that end, couples and their attorneys enter into a participation agreement. This agreement lays out rules and guidelines that support cooperation.

As part of the agreement, collaborative divorce attorneys normally agree to not represent their clients in court if the negotiations fail. Hiring a new legal team represents a significant cost. This can help to encourage collaboration if negotiations slow down or become complex.

In general, the goal is to find solutions that work for both parties. Neither person may get exactly what they want. However, they know that the shared goal is finding the best possible solution for everyone involved.

As is the case with traditional divorce, needs addressed in collaborative divorce include:

  • Splitting up assets, including liquid assets, real estate, retirement accounts and more.
  • Dividing debt from the marriage.
  • Developing an agreement for spousal support.
  • Building a plan for child custody, as well as support and visitation rights.

Collaborative Divorce Vs Mediation

Collaborative divorce and mediation share the same goal. Specifically, that’s avoiding litigation and court in a less-contentious process.

The major difference is who is involved in the proceedings. Collaborative divorce includes both parties and their attorneys. Mediation is led by a neutral, mutually agreed-upon third party. That leads to a different dynamic in negotiations and building an agreement.

Benefits of the Collaborative Divorce Process

In collaborative divorce, couples reach an agreement together through compromise. Compared to traditional divorce, that can lead to a variety of advantages.

Increased Affordability

Every divorce is different, with varying costs and financial obligations. However, without extended time spent on discovery and in court, a collaborative divorce can cost less than a traditional one. There is often less work for lawyers to complete overall.

More Control

Both parties can have plenty of input in a traditional divorce. However, when they can’t agree, final decisions are made by a judge.

In a collaborative divorce, the couple has the final say as long as they remain cooperative. That can make it easier to address specific issues related to finances or child custody.

More Flexible Processes

Collaborative divorce starts with an agreement between the couple to work together. As with traditional divorce, assets and liabilities need to be fully accounted for. However, there are not strict, court-mandated timelines for completing this process.

Additionally, there aren’t required court dates and mandated appearances in collaborative divorce. The collaborative lawyers and couple choose when and where to meet. That can be a welcome change compared to a litigated divorce.

Collaborative divorce is a viable option for couples who want to end their relationship in a cooperative way. It can reduce costs and lead to a more mutually beneficial result. These advantages are not guaranteed but are often possible in collaborative divorce.

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