While the popular media likes to portray a divorce as an adversarial affair for dramatic effect, the truth is that in many instances, the dissolution proceeds in a calm, professional manner. It is not uncommon for couples to simply grow apart – whether it is the result of changing professional goals or evolving personality traits. In these situations, couples might choose to seek a collaborative divorce.
Collaborative divorce is a process by which divorcing couples can reach mutually acceptable resolutions. This is an out-of-court process centered on a low-conflict environment and the honest exchange of information. To accomplish this, there are generally four stages in the collaborative divorce process. Based on factors unique to the marriage, the process might change for some couples.
- Decision: First and foremost, the divorcing couple must investigate the benefits of a collaborative divorce and decide to pursue this path.
- Legal representation: Each party mush hire their own collaborative family lawyer. In this way – even if the couple is in agreement on all matters – they will meet privately with their own lawyer.
- Participation agreement: Each partner signs this agreement which forms the backbone of the collaborative divorce. The partners agree to provide full disclosure and proceed through the divorce in an honest and courteous manner.
- Collaboration: There will be a series of face-to-face meetings as the team works to exchange information and define the needs and expectation of each partner. All parties have a stake in reaching a mutually-acceptable compromise on financial and parenting time matters.
There are multiple elements that might increase the complexity and duration of the negotiations. From operating a family business to owning multiple properties to factors involving the children, a collaborative divorce might be a long process. An experienced family law lawyer can provide the guidance you need from start to finish.