A collaborative divorce sits under the umbrella of collaborative law. Collaborative law started to kick off in the 1980-ies. Today, collaborative law exists in many countries, like in the United States, the UK, Canada and Australia.
It is a legal process in which parents, "divorce lawyers and family professionals work together. The aim is to reach an agreement that best fits the interest of all the family members. The divorcing parents avoid the uncertain outcome of litigation in court, where they give the decision power out of hands to a judge.
The start of the process
The divorcing parents have to agree on a collaborative divorce. Once that has been agreed, a trained divorce lawyer or a mediator must be found.
In high conflict divorce situations it will be hard to reach such an agreement. Especially when couples fight a lot and where one or both try to physically or psychologically damage the other or when abuse is present, a collaborative divorce is not an option.
The Participation Agreement
Both partners must agree to participate. The mediator or the divorce lawyer will draw up this document.
All participants, including the lawyers and family professionals, sign the so called "participation agreement". The participating laywers declare that they will not represent one of the family members in a future family litigation case. So will never be able to use the information and knowledge that they get in the collaborative divorce process later, if one of the family members decides to go to the court to defend his or her's rights.
In the process, you work together instead of against each other. You will be encouraged to find the best solution and to create the best situation for your children after the divorce.
They aim of the process is to work to a solution that is in the best interest of the parents and the children. Going to court means somebody will win and the other will loose. The collaborative divorce approach takes out most of the emotions and focusses on the interests. As the interests of both parents are often different in many area's, they can both get what they want. So, when focusing on the interests instead of emotions, the results are win-win for the parents and as a result also a win for the children.
You will be much more involved and you will play an active role. Because you have decision power and you do not depend on the uncertain verdict of the judge, the uncertainty of the outcome is much lower.
A shorter process also reduces the stress on the family. The sooner the divorce is official, you will be able to fully focus your energy on your new future and on the future of your children.
The costs of this type of divorce are usually lower than the costs of a going to the court. You still have the costs of your lawyer and you might have additional cost for involving other family professionals.
Your lawyer does not have to go through all the steps required by the court and to create and file the required documents. As the court is not involved, there are no hearings that your lawyer has to attend. That will save you an amount. Furthermore, there are no court costs to be paid.
In many collaborative divorces, the couples hire one divorce lawyer that represents them both. This is possible because the agree to participate and find a solution. They share the costs of the lawyer.
Do you have experience with a collaborative divorce? Please share your story here: Parent's Divorce Stories.
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