April 3, 2023
Going through a divorce is a trying time for all involved. While it may not be as dramatic as the last film you watched, a divorce can have a significant psychological toll. For one, divorces are expensive and require a lot of resources, including money, attorneys, and time.
Those who have never been through a divorce probably are unaware that courts encourage couples to resolve their dispute outside of litigation. So if you can get along with your soon-to-be ex during divorce proceedings, it will make the process easier for all involved.
If you are not in a situation where the two of you can reach a compromise, you might want to consider hiring a third-party mediator or allowing a neutral party to interact with each side and resolve the dispute.
Unfortunately, if you cannot reach an agreement, you must adhere to the traditional divorce proceedings outlined by your state. However, if some degree of compromise is possible, your divorce lawyer might recommend a collaborative divorce.
This article will delve into the specifics of a collaborative divorce so you can determine whether that approach is right for you.
Defining Collaborative Divorce
A collaborative divorce is a legal process that enables both sides to negotiate the terms of their divorce. When two parties enter into a collaborative divorce, they can proceed with their divorce using mediation and negotiation rather than complex litigation.
A collaborative divorce is a relatively trauma-free way of resolving matters about debt division, property division, child support, and more.
Do You Need a Lawyer for a Collaborative Divorce?
Yes, you will benefit from hiring a divorce lawyer for a collaborative divorce. This process is essentially a combination of traditional divorce and divorce mediation. After you and your spouse have decided to pursue a collaborative divorce, you will each hire divorce lawyers to represent your interests.
During the divorce process, your lawyers will engage one another in a non-adversarial manner. Think of it more as conflict management than conflict creation.
Achieving a Workable Solution
Experienced divorce lawyers will create a workable solution for both parties. However, remember that your attorney should always have your best interests in their mind. They should be willing to listen if you feel strongly about a particular strategy or direction. After all, you are their client.
Division of Assets and Custody
After you hire your attorneys, you will each meet with your respective attorney in private to discuss strategy and what you hope to gain from the divorce. For example, you might discuss how to handle child custody or how to divide assets. Additionally, you might discuss spousal support if you or your spouse have agreed to such terms.
Collaborative Divorce Team
Once you have agreed on a strategy and understand one another’s intentions, your attorney and your spouse’s attorney will assemble a team. This collaborative divorce team will consist of a divorce coach, a finance specialist, and a child specialist if the divorce involves children.
The specialists will work jointly with you and your spouse to ensure you reach an amicable resolution.
Meeting with Your Spouse’s Attorney
After you and your attorney iron out your initial strategy, the two of you will meet with your spouse and their attorney. This meeting will be the first of several, so arrive on time and be collaborative and assertive.
Usually, the first step in these meetings is to sign an agreement giving the attorneys permission to withdraw if either spouse pursues litigation in court.
This agreement serves as an incentive for all parties to get along and resolve their differences without the need for litigation. After all, retaining new lawyers is an expensive and time-intensive endeavor.
The next meetings will consist of you and your spouse meeting with your respective lawyers and the team they have agreed on. This will enable both of you to keep your needs in perspective and address any concerns. Every so often, the four of you will convene to check in and make sure everything is progressing accordingly.
You are required to voluntarily provide your spouse with any information pertinent to the proceedings. For example, if you and your spouse share a 401(k), you must provide their divorce lawyer with documentation and updates.
Additionally, you may need to provide:
- Tax returns
- Employment information
- Salary information
- Asset information
- Debt information
Since a collaborative divorce doesn’t require discovery, you are on the honor system regarding providing relevant information. Just keep in mind that your goal is to ensure things remain amicable, and withholding information doesn’t promote a positive environment.
If you try to hide assets or behave in a generally bad manner, your spouse’s lawyer could request that the case be reopened at a later date, and you can bet they won’t be so friendly next time.
After you’ve negotiated the terms, your lawyers will draft a settlement agreement. After you and your spouse sign the settlement agreement, it will serve as the final judgment for the divorce.
Hire a Qualified Divorce Lawyer
Hiring a good St. Petersburg familiy lawyer is the best way to proceed with a collaborative divorce. Their years of experience will enable them to easily navigate the legal landscape and advocate in your best interests.