If you are considering divorce, it can be an overwhelming time for both you and your partner. Several options are available to you, and one of the more unconventional yet popular approach is the collaborative divorce option. Throughout the years, with divorce being such a common occurrence, more and more options for how to go about the process have been developed.

What is Appealing about a Collaborative Divorce?

Many couples want to keep their issues more private rather than airing them out in court for all to hear and share opinions.

In collaborative divorce, the control lies more within the hands of the couple rather than in the hands of the courts and the lawyers.

Decisions that need to be agreed upon become the main focus of the process. Each party can share their thoughts and work together to find the best solution for all parties involved, including children.

Ultimately, decisions that have been reached through collaboration are more likely to be accepted and followed by both parties, with less conflict and unhappiness going forward.

What are the Main Components of a Collaborative Divorce?

The process can be lengthy or relatively short. What determines this timeline is the number of topics of concern to either party and how willing they are to work with one another.

Full disclosure is a crucial component. Both parties must be willing to discuss, at length, the topics at hand. These topics can include how to divide assets, how child support will be paid, how to divide parenting time with a schedule for the children now and as they grow and their needs change, and more. Both parties mustn’t hide anything in this process to collectively meet or negotiate all requirements.

Experts are also included in this process. Each party has the option to hire a team of experts that can assist them in determining what is best for both parties based on the expert’s opinion. Experts are well-versed in all things divorce and can provide valuable insight on topics such as the distribution of assets, child and spousal support, custody and parenting timeshare.

Are Children Involved in the Process?

A collaborative divorce is set up so that the children don’t have to be exposed to negotiations or disagreements on the topics at hand, though their well-being is at the forefront of the discussion.

In some rare cases, children can be involved if they are of an acceptable level of maturity, and if it is in the children’s best interest to participate in the process.

Do We Have to Go to Court?

One of the main components of a collaborative divorce is that all parties agree that litigation is not an option and that courts will be avoided.

Each party will consult an experienced attorney who can help assemble a team of experts and work through the main points of interest.

All parties, including the lawyers and the experts, agree not to pursue or threaten litigation and to work through the topics outside the courtroom.

Why is Collaborative Divorce Appealing?

As mentioned above, the idea that topics can be discussed openly behind closed doors rather than in a public courtroom is appealing to most of those who choose the collaborative divorce route.

Parties can choose neutral third-party experts that can help them to gain a different perspective and reach an agreement through the experts’ vast knowledge and research rather than feeling like there is a biased opinion on either side.

In most cases, the process takes less time than finalizing a divorce through litigation, which can also mean that, in some cases, it is less expensive. This isn’t always the case, but due to the nature of the approach, in general, the process takes less time than litigating in court to move forward to the next step.

When Doesn’t a Collaborative Divorce Work?

The central premise of collaborative divorce is that all parties agree to the process. If either party of the divorce or the lawyers involved aren’t in agreement that litigation or courts will be avoided, the collaborative process will not work.

In most cases, a contract is involved that all parties sign, agreeing to the ground rules, which include a promise not to move to litigation, or threaten litigation during the process.

Is Collaborative Divorce Cheaper than Litigation?

The answer to this question, unfortunately, isn’t black and white. There are high costs in both approaches. Hiring a lawyer for both parties, hiring experts, and other aspects can add up.

However, time is money when dealing with legal professionals, and collaborative divorces often take less time than contentious divorces that involve litigation.

What can also provide a sense of relief is avoiding the costs of court fees. Also, emotional or stress costs, however intangible, can add up quickly. Many couples agree that by avoiding the pressures of courts and having the end of this chapter in the public eye, they saved themselves undue stress and frustration in an already trying time in their lives.

How Can a Lawyer Help?

A lawyer trained explicitly in collaborative divorce can be invaluable to you and your family’s future. They have years of experience dealing with the specific collaborative divorce process and how it differs from a more conventional, litigation-style divorce.

Seeking a lawyer with collaborative divorce experience is crucial, as they understand the process thoroughly. They likely have access to and relationships with experts that you can utilize to help with several aspects of the divorce process.

Contact our office today at (213) 351-1000 to learn how we can best assist you. We offer a free 15-minute discovery session to understand your situation better, help determine whether a collaborative divorce is a realistic option for you, and help you know the next steps.

We have helped multiple families over the years and are confident that we can help you, too.