What Is Collaborative Law in a Divorce?

America has long been depicted as a confrontational society where there must ultimately be a winner and loser. In the legal profession, iconic television shows such as Boston Legal and LA Law defined the best divorce lawyers by their strong courtroom presence and overwhelming closing statements. But whether you live in Columbus, Ohio or Miami, Florida, a less stressful alternative exists. Family lawyers for women (and men) can reach peaceful settlements outside the courtroom.

The truth is that divorce needn’t be a zero-sum game. While some marriages deteriorate to the point that the slightest disagreement becomes acrimonious, many couples seeking divorce can still agree on most things, starting with the fact that, for the good of both parties, they need to go their separate ways. When spouses remain concerned with the “good of both parties,” collaborative law can be the best avenue to a successful resolution that benefits all concerned.

What Is a Collaborative Divorce?

In essence, a collaborative divorce is self-defining. Rather than fight “to get everything in the divorce,” spouses collaborate to find solutions to their differences, enabling both sides to come away from the process reasonably satisfied. Each party retains an attorney, but, because reconciliation is the objective, rather than victory, it is agreed in advance that the use and expense of other experts, such as divorce coaches or financial experts, be shared.

How Does Collaborative Divorce Differ From Traditional Mediation and Arbitration?

The process presents a slightly altered dynamic from traditional mediation, which features an actual mediator. Collaborative divorce more closely resembles, appropriately enough, peace talks. The two sides meet face to face without a referee, having already agreed to codes of conduct and procedures. Rather than being guided by a third party, each side responds to the other, seeking a mutually acceptable compromise. Similarly, an arbitrator has no place in proceedings, as it is left to the spouses to reach an accord.

How Does Collaborative Divorce Work?

Collaborative divorce is a five-step process that works as follows:

1. Each Party Retains an Attorney

When committed to a collaborative divorce, it is important to retain an attorney supportive of and experienced in the mediational process. While both parties are likely to have a so-called hill on which they’re willing to die as well as other issues for which they’ll want to fight, an overly zealous lawyer won’t serve anyone well in the negotiating process. The best divorce lawyers in this instant are less adversarial.

2. Both Sides Agree Not to Litigate

Both spouses sign a binding agreement not to litigate, which includes promises to disclose all pertinent documents and information, and to correct rather than exploit any miscalculations or unintentional errors.

The agreement is strengthened by a provision requiring both attorneys to withdraw should either of their clients decide to break the contract in favor of going to court. In essence, all the time spent working toward an amicable solution is wasted and the entire divorce must start from scratch.

3. Parties Consult Separately

Before any actual negotiations take place, as well as following each tete-a-tete, the two spouses meet individually with their attorneys. They discuss and prioritize their needs and, keeping in mind the commitment to negotiate in good faith towards a resolution acceptable to both parties, explore where and how far they might be willing to compromise.

4. Parties Negotiate

With specific goals in mind, the spouses and their attorneys meet to find common ground. Negotiations may also include other consultants, such as child custody experts and accountants. As already noted, any consultants will remain neutral and are mutually agreed upon by both sides.

Due to the litany of issues covered in a divorce, including child custody, alimony, and distribution of assets, several planning sessions and meetings should be anticipated before an acceptable resolution is achieved.

5. Parties File Divorce Papers and Settlement Agreement

When an agreement is struck, divorce papers are filed with the appropriate family or, as in Columbus, Ohio, domestic relations court, along with the settlement agreement. In keeping with the collaborative process, this is a straightforward, uncontested procedure.

Are Family Lawyers for Women the Best Divorce Lawyers for the Collaborative Process?

The numbers tell the story. Women file roughly seven out of ten divorce petitions. In two out of three families, the woman is the primary caregiver. Finally, women receive primary custody of children in eighty-five percent (85%) of cases. Clearly, a female spouse needs an attorney who understands her interests. In collaborative divorce proceedings, where mutual understanding is the desired outcome, it only makes sense that the attorneys on both sides comprehend those issues.

What Are the Advantages of Obtaining a Collaborative Divorce in Columbus, Ohio?

Opting for collaborative divorce rather than a court proceeding can benefit both parties in several ways, whether they live in Columbus or anywhere in the United States.

1. Saves Time and Money

If you follow the news, you’ve probably heard how the courts are overburdened. If you’ve been caught up in the legal system, you’ve experienced first-hand how slowly the wheels of justice turn.

Parties typically wait weeks or months between hearings, and, when all is said and done, are saddled with court costs as well as attorney fees. The collaborative process avoids those delays and expenses, with matters proceeding according to the schedules of the spouses and attorneys.

2. Reduces Stress

Because both parties are interested in reaching a settlement from the start of a collaborative proceeding, there is reason for optimism rather than trepidation. In addition, the process plays out in more comfortable surroundings than a courtroom.

The comparative lack of stress further encourages the free, open, and honest exchange between parties that results in a mutual resolution of differences. The agreement not to litigate includes assurances that both sides will treat the other with respect and dignity.

3. Protects Children

Both spouses also agree to isolate their children from the proceeding and do everything possible to mitigate the impact of the divorce on them.

4. Provides a Framework for Resolving Future Disputes

While a collaborative divorce addresses concerns on both sides and seeks a mutually acceptable resolution, it is impossible to anticipate future events that may be impacted by the agreement.

For instance, shared custody arrangements could affect or be affected by a parent’s ability to accept a lucrative job offer that may require them to move to another city, state, or even country. A mediational process can contain provisions to help resolve such unexpected developments.

5. Satisfies Both Parties

It bears repeating: the ultimate goal is satisfactory resolution for all concerned. Collaborative law operates on the principle that, even while severing marital ties, both spouses can come away feeling better about the process and with enduring respect for one another. Further, in doing so, they set a positive example for any children caught up in the divorce.

While collaborative law proceedings involve two parties, each with their own legal representation, and calls upon experts in pertinent fields, the similarity to courtroom litigation ends there. The process is more affordable, less adversarial, lends itself more readily to women’s interests, and, while moving at a quicker pace, produces outcomes that tend to be satisfactory for all involved. To consult freely about the collaborative process with the best divorce lawyers in Columbus, Ohio, contact Woodford, Sappathan, McGee now.