Clients are often confused about the term collaborative divorce – their spouse may have said it to them, or a friend mentioned it, or they may have read about it somewhere – and they wonder what does it mean?
A collaborative divorce is simply one where the parties agree to work out all the issues in the divorce without a major court battle. This often results in saving both time and money because if the parties are able to agree to the terms of their divorce, they’ll be able to then obtain an uncontested (or agreed upon) divorce.
The attorneys in a collaborative divorce require through a participation agreement that if the divorce becomes contested – in other words one or both of the parties no longer wants to negotiate and instead wants to proceed to court – then the attorneys will both withdraw their appearances and the parties will be forced to either hire new lawyers or represent themselves in the future hearings. This can sometimes be an incentive to the parties to continue to work through any disagreements.
Other times, instead of or in addition to the parties having lawyers, a mediator or other professional (accountant, appraiser, counselor, child specialist, etc.) is involved in a collaborative divorce to help the parties work through the resolution of all their issues.
This type of divorce only works if the parties are committed to the process and willing to negotiate in good faith. The key point in a collaborative divorce is that the parties attempt at all costs to work together to resolve all issues in a way that is fair to both parties.