How many friends or family members do you know have had their lives turned upside down, relationships with children destroyed, and bank accounts drained in order to get a divorce?
How many friends or family members let a judge (who knew nothing about them) decide when they can see their kids and what property they can keep?
Unfortunately the answer to both questions is probably more than one.
You don’t have to make that same mistake. You can choose to pursue your divorce without the destruction that usually accompanies litigation. This is what Collaborative Divorce offers to you.
A Sane Alternative
Collaborative divorce is an alternative to the typical litigation that destroys lives and finances. It is a process through which you and your spouse commit to resolving all issues of the divorce by mutual agreement. You do this without resorting, or threatening to resort, to costly court proceedings. Collaborative divorce uses informal methods to reach an agreement that addresses everyone’s needs. Some of those informal methods include voluntary production of documents, four-way conferences, and interest based negotiation.
It’s More Than Just A Word
While some lawyers may refer to themselves as being collaborative in style, a true collaborative lawyer shares his client’s commitment to the “no court” aspect of the process.
The collaborative model provides an opportunity and an incentive for everyone to use their best efforts to reach agreement. If this is not possible, then you are free to seek litigation counsel. Collaborative Divorce Lawyers therefore have an incentive to facilitate agreement, rather than foster conflict between you and your ex-spouse. In the litigation arena, attorneys are usually the primary beneficiary of high conflict disputes.
The Benefits of Collaborative Divorce
The collaborative process is less time consuming, less expensive and less confrontational than traditional divorce. Litigation can take over a year or more, we usually finish collaborative cases in 3-4 months.
You are better able to focus on pertinent issues because the process reduces stress and anxiety.
The money you save can help both of you get back on your feet quicker instead of enriching your attorneys.
You and your family will also keep your privacy in tact. The same cannot be said when you litigate and air your dirty laundry through court filings, transcripts and hearings in open court.
People that go through collaborative divorce are less likely to have expensive enforcement disputes. We design these agreements to be more sustainable over longer periods of time because they have your input.
The collaborative method also helps both of you continue to do your critical job of being a parent. The non-combative atmosphere diminishes hostilities and allows you to preserve and enhance what remains of your parenting relationship for the benefit of your children. This also allows you to learn to work cooperatively during and after the divorce when co-parenting children.
How it Works
You and your spouse each choose your own collaborative divorce lawyer. Even though this is not typical litigation, the rules governing attorneys prohibit the same attorney from representing both parties to any kind of divorce. If you come across an attorney who claims to represent both of you, ask them to put that in writing.
The lawyers draft a collaborative case representation agreement for each of you to review and sign. We customize the document to your specific situation. By agreement, we designate one spouse as the “plaintiff”. That person’s attorney prepares the paperwork to file the divorce with the court. After they file the case, the parties exchange financial and other information, and participate in negotiations and meetings designed to work out resolutions to all the issues.
Neither attorney files motions or brings disputes to court. Nor do the parties engage in formal “discovery”. Both of you voluntarily produce financial information. Nobody goes to court for discovery, or subpoenas, or depositions. If necessary, you jointly engage the services of a specialist to help with the resolution of complex issues. Some common complex issues are business valuations, tax planning or customized parenting plans.
Ultimately, we transfer all agreements to writing in a form that is acceptable to the court. Each Collaborative Divorce Attorney prepares whatever paperwork is necessary for his or her client. The lawyers arrange for the court place the case on the calendar for the only court appearance that is required — the “final uncontested hearing.” At this hearing the court approves the agreement and grants the divorce.
How to Begin
The Shea Law Firm can help you review your situation, discuss your goals, and analyze if Collaborative Divorce may work in your case. Call us at (832) 592-7913 to get started today.