When people think about divorce, what often comes to mind is the image of a terribly contrary affair. Most view it as a situation of intense conflict, with emotions boiling over and recriminations flying. While divorce is not always like this, the truth is that many couples have had to endure this sort of experience. Some couples end up in a lengthy, high-conflict situation with attorneys on both sides and both parties seeking every advantage against the other.
The problem though, is that in scenarios like these, neither party really comes out on top. By the time the fight is over, more damage will have been done to both parties than was ever in contention from the off. Sadly, the damage is almost never restricted to the parties either. More often than not, collateral damage exists in the form of terribly hurt children and devastated relatives. But it doesn’t always have to be so. Collaborative law affords couples an opportunity to end their marriage in a sane, civil manner. Through the medium of collaborative divorce, couples can find their common grounds and reach satisfactory agreement on differences in a swift and non-accusatory process.
At Shur Law , we have helped many couples find civil resolution to their marital disputes through collaborative law processes. By helping them find better and more conciliatory ways to resolve their differences, we help ensure that divorce does not turn out as difficult as it often sounds.In this article, we’ll explain what collaborative law means and how the mechanism of collaborative divorce helps couples find the least contrary way to end their marriage.
What is collaborative law?
Collaborative law, also referred to as collaborative practice , is an area of law that focuses on resolving disputes without involving the courts. It falls within a range of alternative dispute resolution procedures that are created to make the process of resolving disputes faster and less accusatory. Collaborative processes are similar to mediation and arbitration, with the difference that they focus on compromise and negotiation between the parties. Although the aim of collaborative law is to move disputes away from the court room, it usually involves lawyers. In processes that fall within this area of law, both parties will still retain attorneys although their jobs will not be to throw darts at each other. They may also involve other professionals such as collaborative coaches, financial specialists or child specialists.
Collaborative divorce is one of the processes within collaborative law. Although the final aim of the process is to secure the mutual separation of the divorcing couple, the focus of the process is to achieve this as painlessly as possible. This is why, aided by lawyers, the process helps the parties come to a mutually acceptable dissolution by employing cooperative techniques rather than adversarial strategies.Frankly speaking, collaborative divorce is the perfect process for couples that want to end their marriage in the least dramatic way possible. It also has the added advantage of protecting every other party involved, directly and indirectly, so the collateral damage is limited or even extinguished.
Benefits of collaborative divorce
There are several benefits to being able to avoid the spectacle of a full-blown court process in favor of collaborative divorce. Some of the most important benefits include the following:
Swift and painless process
Anyone that has had to go through a protracted divorce will agree that it can be more than a little inconvenient. Even when the process does not stretch into an extended debacle, it has the propensity to wring its participants out emotionally.
Traditional divorce is also invasive, and even at the best of times, may involve the disclosure of very private affairs to the public in court. Through collaborative divorce, couples can find a swifter and infinitely more private solution to their disputes.
Protect children and loved ones
The usual problem with divorce is that the emotional damage often spills onto individuals other than the couple. Children and loved ones are usually fair game in the maelstrom of emotions that surround divorce proceedings.
Collaborative divorce helps couples manage the situation much better, providing an organized civil process that helps them keep a handle on things. With your specially trained collaborative law attorneys working for you, there’s a much better chance that you can protect your loved ones while achieving the resolution that you need.
Negotiate a mutually beneficial compromise
Issues such as child custody, alimony and child support are often enough to turn even the most civil proceedings into a mess. One of the basic reasons for this is because lawyers on both sides are mostly looking to get what they can for one party, and that party alone.
This outlook often ends up with someone getting what they want, and the other getting left in an undesirable position. The peace doesn’t often last very long either. Should you choose to go the collaborative route, it makes it easier for you and your spouse to find a better, lasting solution to your differences.
How collaborative divorce works
The collaborative divorce process usually begins with contacting a trained collaborative divorce attorney. It is important to find an attorney that has been specially certified in collaborative practice, to ensure that they know what they’re doing.
Once you have decided on the lawyer you want to guide you through the process, you should meet with them privately to let them know what you want from the process. The next step after this will be to set up a meeting with both parties. It is at this meeting that the participation agreement will be signed by both parties.
What is a participation agreement?
The participation agreement is a special document that is expected to guide the collaborative divorce process. It is essentially an undertaking by both parties that they will participate in the process and do their best to ensure its success.
The document spells out the rights and responsibilities of both parties and their lawyers. By signing the agreement, you agree to negotiate the entire dispute and refrain from going to court or threatening court action. The agreement also contains something called a disqualification provision. The provision is a fail-safe that aims to provide the parties should the process fail to secure a resolution of the dispute. It provides that if the case gets to court, each party will have to hire a new lawyer.
There are two benefits to this. First, you can be confident that should the collaborative divorce fail, you will never have to suffer through a cross-examination fueled by material from the failed process. Second, it ensures that your collaborative divorce attorney is 100% committed to helping you settle the case. They know that if they fail, they’ll be out of a job.
The process usually comes to an end once a satisfactory arrangement has been reached between the parties. This will be evidenced in an agreement that will then be presented to a court for pronouncement. This seals it and makes it binding on both parties, with equal force as a judgment of the court.
Let us help you find a painless resolution
Our remit at Shur Law is to help our clients find the best possible solutions to their problems. And through the collaborative divorce process, we have helped many like you reach a satisfactory conclusion to otherwise sticky disputes.
Collaborative divorce can save you time, money and the emotional trauma of litigation. Should you wish to understand more about how the process can help you, please contact us (513) 448-4099.