An amicable alternative to litigation battles in court

Collaborative divorce is an alternative to the adversarial approach of divorce. As opposed to the anger involved in many divorces, this area of family law uses trained attorneys to negotiate a settlement between the parties.

In collaborative divorce, a “Participation Agreement” is agreed to in the case a settlement is not reached. This agreement stipulates that the lawyers must withdraw from the case if it goes to litigation. Alternatively, if a couple accepts the settlement, the agreement is written, and signed by both parties the agreement becomes legally binding. Then the settlement goes to a judge for approval.

A “Participation Agreement,” in most cases, contains a provision stating that the parties will act in their children’s best interest by promoting their relationship with their children and by minimizing the emotional damage to their children as a result of the separation.  This is one of the primary reasons couples choose collaborative divorce.

In most cases, a “Participation Agreement” contains a provision stating the parties will act in their children’s best interests and minimize the emotional damage to their children. Many choose collaborative divorce for this reason.

The concept of collaborative divorce began in Minnesota in the 1980s.

Sandy Arons, who has a financial background and divorced in 2008, took charge of her own fee agreement by tackling the money aspects as well as hiring a therapist for herself and her children. “I created this collaborative divorce, sort of ad hoc,” she said. At the time, Nashville attorneys were not familiar with collaborative divorce, so the couple negotiated their own split.

John Hussey, a director, producer and editor with Nashville visual communications company PK Pictures,  said he and his wife chose collaborative divorce “because early on, both of us realized minimizing hostility during the divorce process would probably make it as easy on the kids as it can be.”

Attorneys, a financial advisor, counselors and various coachers are typically part of the collaborative team. Divorce coaches help couples decide if they really do want a divorce and if collaboration is the best route. In addition, they help to set goals and keep the peace.

If collaboration breaks down, a spouse can then turn to court, but they must hire a different lawyer than the one retained for collaboration.

If a collaborative divorce fails, a spouse can turn to court only after hiring a different lawyer than the one they used for collaboration.

There are advantages to having a collaborative divorce:

–Clients have more control over the timetable because it is not set by the judge.  This is usually good unless one spouse slows down the process, in which case, the other can’t turn to a judge to speed it up.

–It’s usually quicker and less expensive, because attorneys don’t have to prepare countless motions for court.

–And as mentioned earlier, collaboration is generally psychological easier for the children.  Studies show that the more contentious the divorce, the more problems children will have adjusting in the aftermath.

Because she was so pleased with collaboration, Arons launched Arons Associates Divorce Planning. This services offers financial counseling to divorcing couples. She said divorce is the top cause of bankruptcies because most people don’t fully understand their finances.

Collaboration “doesn’t eliminate the difficult part of divorce,” Hussey said, but it makes the process more “graceful.”

The point is “to create cooperation rather than create aggravation,” Hussey said.

With this being said, collaboration may not always be the most viable option.  In divorces where the stakes are high and couples cannot come to agreement on terms of parental rights, child support, child custody, maintenance and high net-worth assets, then conventional litigation may serve as the only way to seek justice.

Still, collaboration may not always be the best option. If couples cannot come to an agreement on terms of parental rights, child support, child custody, maintenance, and asset division, the traditional approach may be the only way to decide the terms of the divorce.

If you are interested in talking to an attorney about a collaborative divorce, you can contact Stange Law Firm, PC at 1-855-805-0595.

Source:  Collaborative divorce offers options to court battles, USA Today

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