What is Collaborative Divorce?
A collaborative divorce is an uncontested divorce in which a couple works through a process to arrive at a divorce settlement without going to court. They each agree to retain attorneys trained in the collaborative divorce process, disclose all financial information, and work toward agreements on all matters — including asset division, spousal support, and child custody.
Each party consults with their attorney, then the clients and attorneys begin discussing a settlement collectively. The attorneys’ assistance is different from legal representation in a traditional divorce where each party’s attorney attempts to get the best settlement for their client. These attorneys are not there to act as litigators — they are settlement specialists. Although the final agreement reached in the collaborative process must be approved by the court, the arrangement is more unique to the couple and their family than it might have been had it involved a court battle.
Another divorce option — mediation — involves the hiring of a neutral party to listen to the wishes of each spouse, review documents, and render an opinion regarding the settlement agreement. While mediation works in some cases, it also has some potential pitfalls, including favoritism of one spouse over the other, or failure to reach an agreement. This would mean starting the process over again.
The Benefits of Collaborative Divorce
You Have More Control
In a collaborative divorce, the spouses are the primary adjudicators of their divorce, not a mediator or a judge. Although your attorneys help you negotiate a settlement, you communicate directly with one another.
It Costs Less
The spouses each retain an attorney, but they are neutral attorneys who agree to work with each other and the spouses to forge a divorce agreement. At the Law Office of Robert B. Dunlap, you pay for as much or as little of my time as you need. I am here to provide the guidance you need to craft an amicable divorce agreement. My flexibility even includes providing you with a “script” you can use when you present your agreement for the court’s approval without the need to pay for my time to appear.
This divorce process also includes other collaborative professionals, all of whom are neutral. These might include financial planners, divorce coaches, and child therapists who work for both parties. For example, there is no need for each spouse to hire someone to value their property when the neutral professional will handle that. Collaborative divorce is a team effort where even the couple remains on the same team.
It Takes Less Time
A collaborative divorce also takes less time than a traditional divorce because everyone on the team is working toward the same goal of settlement rather than litigation. Contentious divorces take time.
You Get Professional Assistance from Start to Finish
Although the couple is working jointly and communicating throughout the collaborative process, their attorneys are available to guide them, and other collaborative professionals provide assistance as needed.
When is Collaborative
Divorce a Good Option?
Collaborative divorce certainly is not the solution for every couple. For example, the collaborative approach will fail with couples that have an unequal power dynamic, those unable to communicate respectfully with one another, or those who do not trust the other to be honest and transparent. Collaborative divorce is a good option for couples when:
- Both parties are respectful to one another
- Both parents want to protect the children and put the children’s best interests before their own
- Both parties want to keep details of their divorce out of a courtroom
- Both parties share power in their relationship — neither party controls nor is abusive toward the other
- Both parties see the benefit of working with collaborative specialists
Hire an Attorney with Experience
Collaborative divorce puts control of the outcome in the hands of the couple. As a collaborative divorce attorney, my role is to guide, not to divide. With the assistance of other neutral professionals, the couple can come to terms that reflect the balance they want for themselves and their family when the marriage is dissolved.
Divorce does not have to be contentious, litigious, or expensive. My unbundled attorney fees allow you to use my services as much or as little as you need. You controlled the wedding. You can control the divorce as well.