Collaborative Divorce: 8 Things You Might Not Know
Collaborative divorce is a structured team approach to addressing the family crisis of divorce. A form of mediation, collaborative divorce is an alternative to litigation, and a way for divorcing couples to have much more of a say in the outcome of all aspects of the divorce settlement, which includes resolving issues of parenting time (custody), parenting responsibilities, division of assets, child support, maintenance agreements and more.
Here are 8 things you might not know about collaborative divorce:
In contrast to litigation, collaborative divorce is client driven. What that means is, the two people getting divorced have much more control over the process and the outcome of the divorce. In litigation, a judge is making decisions about the divorce, based on the arguments of the two divorce attorneys in the case. In collaborative divorce, a team of experts that can include financial planners, mental health coaches and collaborative divorce attorneys, are making suggestions based on discussions between the two parties.
Collaborative divorce is less expensive than litigation. The reason is because litigation can take months—even years, and that means more billable attorney hours and more court time. This drives costs up.
Collaborative divorce is faster than litigation. The same reason as point #2.
Collaborative divorce is not as complex as litigation. The parties both understand the process and what decisions are being made. That isn’t always the case in litigation.
Collaborative divorce is more flexible as far as scheduling meetings since the parties choose the time and place for meetings that fit their schedule. In litigation, court dates are set and are very difficult to change.
Collaborative divorce is a far less stressful process since the parties play an active role in crafting their resolution. In litigation, the parties are dealing with judges, who are making life decisions for them.
Collaborative divorce produces stronger, more customized agreements, which greatly reduces the chance of post decree issues—the need to change the divorce agreement later on.
Collaborative divorce keeps things more amicable and positive between the parties. The discussions about divorce agreements foster communication between the two people getting divorced, which can affect the amount of anger and resentment one or both people are feeling. It’s not always easy to communicate with someone you are divorcing, but with the help of the collaborative team, issues can be addressed constructively, and both parties feel like they have control over the decisions being made. Because of this, their attitudes toward one another can improve, which can help make co-parenting much smoother.
Zachary M. Kafoglis is a partner at Katz & Stefani.