Divorce is never ideal for any of the parties involved. But if it can be avoided, the ideal divorce is one that never makes it to the courtroom. Instead, both parties will work together to achieve a fair resolution for all sides. Although this is not always possible, it is certainly the most desirable option for spouses who can use mediation and/or negotiation to reach a settlement.
One of the best ways for parties to reach this sort of resolution is known as collaborative divorce.
How Collaborative Divorce Works
Collaborative divorce is the newest divorce dispute-resolution model. It is a process through which the parties and their attorneys commit themselves to resolving all issues of the divorce by negotiated agreement without resorting — or threatening to resort — to costly court proceedings.
Arizona uses the team approach to collaborative divorce, encouraging the free exchange of information and ultimately allowing the parties to make their own decisions. Of course, both parties will make these case decisions with a team of professionals who are hired to assist in the process.
Essential Team Members
The team members of a collaborative divorce include:
- The parties
- Family law attorneys for each party
- Divorce coaches for each party who guide the parties through difficult emotional issues that arise when a divorce occurs, while also providing the parties with communication skills during and post-divorce
- A child specialist — if there are children — who assists the parties with a parenting plan
- A financial professional who compiles a list of the parties’ assets and debts; the financial professional also provides scenarios for the parties to demonstrate how possible agreements look as they play out into the future
The combined collaborative team of professionals has the ability to dedicate significantly more time to the family dynamics than a family court judge due to caseload and time restrictions inherent in the court system.
The Unique Agreement
A unique characteristic of collaborative divorce is that the parties enter into an agreement before the process begins. This agreement provides that if one or both of them choose to abandon the collaborative divorce process and proceed to court for resolution, all members of the collaborative team must withdraw from the process.
This means that the clients must find new attorneys and opinions. Additionally, the work product produced by the team members cannot be used. The obvious purpose of this agreement is to encourage clients to work within the collaborative divorce model and resolve their divorce outside of adversarial litigation. The agreement helps to ensure the parties approach the collaborative divorce process in good faith.
The actual cost of a collaborative divorce differs from family to family, depending on specific needs and the team members hired. However, having a team of professionals at the outset of your case ensures that all issues and concerns are being addressed from the very beginning, which can be very cost effective. Overall, collaborative cases can cost significantly less than litigation cases and be less emotionally damaging than the traditional litigation process.
Contact us at Hallier Lawrence if you are interested in learning more about how we can help guide you through a collaborative divorce.