What is a Collaborative Divorce?

I’ve recently been asked about ‘Collaborative Divorce’ and whether or not I think it’s a good idea.

First of all, I must admit that I am not a recognized member of any collaborative divorce organization.

I have read the information that compares the Collaborative Divorce process to the ‘regular’ divorce process, and if I didn’t know any better, I’d be scared of doing a regular divorce myself!

Let’s break it down a little.  According to Wikipedia, Collaboration is working together to achieve a goal.  In a divorce, the married couple, or at least one of them, has the goal of ending the marriage.  In a collaborative divorce, the parties, and often a team of professionals, work together to determine how the end of the marriage will be handled.

There can be some discussion with child therapists about the best way to discuss the topic with the children.  There can be some discussions with financial professionals about the best way to structure the finances now and after the divorce.  Apparently, many Collaborative Divorce groups have someone who is a ‘divorce coach’ that can help the parties to identify who should be involved and when.

And there will always be lawyers, because divorce is, after all, a legal function.

So the real question is, are there really only two totally opposite options?  Do I only have a choice of  (1) a divorce where the spouses can have meaningful discussions about how to resolve the marital property division with a professional staff to assist in those discussions or (2)  go to a trial in court and have the judge make the decision?  In other words, is a collaborative divorce the only way to avoid going to trial?  and do all non-collaborative divorces end up in front of a judge who make the decisions?

I can only speak from my own experience.

Sure there are attorneys who take every case to court and will work to get the last penny for their clients.  If that’s what the client wants, these are the best attorneys for their case.

There are also a lot of attorneys who aren’t members of a collaborative group that really want to help their clients end their marriage with the least amount of trauma.  This is the group I belong to.

If necessary, I can take a case to court and do the trial.  But I must admit that I don’t do that often.  Most of my divorce cases are handled in settlement talks with the spouses and their respective attorneys.  Sometimes we all get in a room together.  Sometimes we work separately and pass draft documents and questions back and forth.  And in a fair number of cases, I do the legal paperwork based on an agreement that has already been approved by both spouses.

Regardless of what you call the process, a divorce is an end to a marriage and things must be decided legally so that the spouses can go on with their lives as separate people and not as a couple.  If there are children, decisions must be made about who is going to take care of the children and make the day-to-day decisions.  Decisions must be made about whether any money is going to be paid for support and for how long.

I don’t necessarily advocate using a collaborative group.  But I don’t necessarily advocate ignoring them either.  Just like with everything else, I always think it’s a good idea to get three quotes or bids and compare the different options.

After all, it’s your life and you need to find the best way for you to go through this legal process.  I think the best way is the one that fits with your needs and personality.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at http://www.BeaversLaw.com.

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