Divorces do not always have to be messy and complicated. Today, collaborative divorces are becoming more popular here in Florida because of their non-adversarial approach, which focuses on cooperation and communication. In contrast to traditional divorce, which revolves around litigation, collaborative divorce compels couples to work together with their attorneys to reach a mutually beneficial settlement. Let’s look deeper into collaborative divorce so you can decide if it is the right approach for you.

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce focuses on couples working together with their attorneys to reach a settlement outside of court. In this type of divorce, both parties must be intent on resolving their differences through open communication and negotiation rather than through litigation. Here are the key features of a collaborative divorce:

Parties Represented by Attorneys

In a collaborative divorce, each spouse is represented by an attorney specially trained in the collaborative process. These legal professionals collaborate to assist the couple in reaching a fair and equitable settlement.

Collaborative Law Participation Agreement

When the collaborative divorce process starts, both parties and their attorneys sign a Collaborative Law Participation Agreement. This agreement lays down the rules and guidelines for the process. It includes a commitment to full disclosure, respectful communication, and the avoidance of litigation.

Commitment to Avoid Litigation

A key defining feature is the commitment to avoid litigation. If either party decides to pursue litigation or the process breaks down, both attorneys must withdraw from the case, and the parties must seek new representation. This commitment to avoiding court helps to keep the parties focused on reaching a settlement through negotiation and problem-solving.

The Process

Starting the Process

First, both parties have to agree to pursue a collaborative divorce and hire their own collaboratively trained attorney. As mentioned, both parties and their attorneys must sign the Collaborative Law Participation Agreement, commit to the collaborative process, and agree to avoid litigation.

Team Meetings

The collaborative team, which includes both spouses, their attorneys, and any other necessary professionals (e.g., financial experts), holds a series of meetings. The team comes together to collaborate and share information, creating solutions that align with the couple’s goals. It’s essential for the meetings to focus on open communication, transparency, and problem-solving.

Creating Settlement Options

Using the information gathered during team meetings, the collaborative team then works together to create settlement options that address and align with the couple’s needs and goals. The team considers factors such as property division, spousal support, child custody, and parenting plans.

Benefits of a Collaborative Divorce

Reduced Stress and Conflict: Compared to a traditional divorce, a collaborative divorce typically involves less stress and conflict. With the primary focus on cooperation and problem-solving, the collaborative process seeks to steer clear of adversarial tactics, which helps reduce the emotional toll of divorce.

More Control Over the Outcome: When a couple undergoes a collaborative divorce, they are able to maintain control over the outcome of their case instead of leaving critical decisions in the hands of a judge.

Faster and More Cost-Effective: Collaborative divorces are often faster and more cost-effective due to avoiding lengthy court battles. Couples can usually reach a settlement in less time and with lower legal fees. Public divorce cases, however, can often be lengthy, complex, and costly due to the formalities and public nature of court proceedings.

Protects Children From the Negative Impact of Divorce: In a collaborative divorce, the well-being of the children involved is prioritized. Conflict between both parents is reduced since cooperation is encouraged, and the whole process helps to create a more stable environment for the children.

Challenges of a Collaborative Divorce

Requires Commitment and Cooperation From Both Parties: A collaborative divorce does require a strong commitment and willingness from both parties to cooperate and work together. The process may break down if one or both parties are unwilling to engage in good-faith negotiations.

May Not Be Suitable for High-Conflict Cases: A collaborative divorce may not be the best course of action for high-conflict cases where domestic violence, substance abuse, or severe mental health issues are involved. There are also cases with significant power imbalances or a severe lack of trust between both parties, which are unsuitable for collaborative divorces.

Consequences of an Unsuccessful Collaborative Divorce: A significant drawback is that if the process breaks down, both parties must start over with new attorneys, which is time-consuming and expensive. This is because the collaborative process requires attorneys to withdraw from the case if it moves to litigation.

Find out if Collaborative Divorce Is the Right Choice for Your Situation

You do have a few options when it comes to your divorce, and a collaborative divorce may or may not be the best course of action for your unique situation. While collaborative divorce offers a more peaceful and cooperative approach, there are also situations where this route will not be successful. If you are considering a divorce and are drawn to a less adversarial approach, contact us today and let us help you determine if it is the right choice for your family.

Emily A. Konicek

Emily A. Konicek

Emily A. Konicek brings 14 years of experience to your family law concerns. Emily excels at mediation, negotiation and litigation, and can help you pursue a course of action that helps you meet your goals for the future and for your family.