Collaborative divorce is a new form of divorce resolution that, although not widely practiced, is gaining traction in Connecticut. In a collaborative divorce, each spouse has their own attorney in the traditional attorney-client relationship. However, what makes collaborative divorce different from traditional divorce is that the divorcing parties and their attorneys agree that if they cannot reach a settlement, they will not to go to court and litigate. Instead they vow that the issues that need to be resolved will be settled in a non-adversarial manner using interest-based negotiation. If the divorcing spouses cannot reach a settlement, both attorneys are required to withdraw from the process and not participate in any subsequent litigation. With this non-combative approach, both clients and attorneys are compelled to seek a negotiated agreement.
Collaborative divorce is the middle ground between mediation and full adversarial litigation. Unlike mediation, each spouse has their own attorney whose job it is to protect their interests through the entire divorce process. Like mediation, the primary goal in the negotiations is to come to a mutually acceptable agreement. Collaborative divorce attorneys can prepare all the necessary paperwork and can attend the required court hearing where the divorce agreement is presented to the court for approval.
Benefits of Collaborative Divorce
The primary benefit of collaborative divorce is that it enables divorcing couples to create results they would not normally be able to obtain in the traditional court setting. Instead of letting a judge decide how assets will be divided or where children will live, the divorcing spouses retain control and decide the outcomes between themselves with the aid of their attorneys. This saves time, emotions, finances, and the relationship with your children.
Other advantages include:
- The collaborative divorce process is civil, cooperative, and less taxing on your emotions.
- Collaborative divorce can be resolved faster than a litigated divorce because you are not at the mercy of the court’s schedule.
- Collaborative divorce can be less costly because you have control of the time – thus billable hours – that are spent on the divorce.
- Couples that go through collaborative divorce are more likely to voluntarily follow through on the agreement because the divorcing spouses work together to create it.
- Going through the collaborative divorce process teaches effective communication skills that can be used in the future to negotiate ongoing issues.
- Collaborative divorce strengthens family relationships by helping marriages end with both parties feeling like they got what they need.
Financial Aspects of Collaborative Divorce
In a collaborative divorce, both parties agree to voluntarily disclose information such as income, assets, debts, and marital property. Both spouses are expected to provide any information that may affect the divorce. Attorneys know when the financial picture is not clear or complete and will stop the process if they believe the other party is withholding information.
The Team Approach
Collaborative divorce creates a team atmosphere unlike the adversarial atmosphere of a litigated divorce. Because the overall goal is to create a mutually acceptable agreement, everyone works together as a team.
In complex divorce cases, it helps to bring in specialists to advise on certain issues. These specialists can include financial professionals such as accountants, tax attorneys, financial planners, and retirement benefits experts. They can also include family or individual counselors to help with communication issues and a parenting plan coordinator to help negotiate issues around how the children will be raised. These experts are expected to stay neutral and provide expert advice on different options for both parties. These specialists come together as teams members to ensure the best possible outcomes for all involved.
Collaborative divorce fosters a safe and respectful environment. It enables effective communication and provides clients with the confidence to settle their disputes without resorting to litigation. Call our office today to learn how we can help your family make this important transition with a minimum of conflict and the best chances for creating a divorce agreement that works for everyone.