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Collaborative Divorce: A Less Expensive, Less Confrontational Approach

Collaborative divorce has been called the kinder, gentler divorce, and it promises its users a less expensive, less confrontational end to their marriage. But what exactly is collaborative divorce, and is it right for you?

Collaborative Divorce: An Alternative Method of Dispute Resolution

Collaborative divorce allows couples going through a divorce or child custody dispute the opportunity to work together and come to a mutually agreeable resolution of their issues. If you think it sounds similar to mediation, you’re partially correct. The end goal of both the collaborative divorce and mediation process is the same – reaching an amicable resolution of all issues outside of court. Where they differ is the process of resolving those issues.

Mediation is an informal process where a neutral mediator attempts to help couples resolve their disputes. The mediator does not issue a decision, but instead helps guide the parties to come to their own resolution. The only parties involved are the couple, the mediator and the attorneys (in some cases, usually those where the divorce is not highly contentious and the issues to be resolved are few, the attorneys do not accompany the couple to mediation). The majority of the time, mediation is attempted after the parties have already filed for divorce (it is a requirement for all couples going through a divorce in Florida), although couples may occasionally attempt it before filing.

Collaborative divorce, on the other hand, seeks to avoid the use of the courts altogether. The parties sign a contract stating that they will attempt to resolve all of their issues prior to filing for divorce. The hope is that the couple will resolve all of their issues, then file for divorce with a signed agreement already in place that just needs the judge’s approval. If the process fails, both parties must find new counsel.

Also different in collaborative law are the parties involved. In addition to the couple and their attorneys, there is usually also a financial adviser and mental health professional to help the couple resolve the financial issues and work through their anger/emotional issues. This is especially important when children are involved, as the less animosity the parents feel toward each other, the better it is for the children’s emotional well-being.

Collaborative divorce is not, however, suitable for every situation. If there is a power imbalance between the couple, for instance if there is a history of domestic violence, then a collaborative divorce may not be a good option. It is also not a good option if either party is not completely willing to participate. The success of the process depends on both parties’ willingness to resolve their issues outside of court. If one party only reluctantly agrees, and then later backs out, the result is a waste of both time and money.

It is also not a good option if either party is untrustworthy or is suspected of hiding assets. Because the court is not involved, there is no formal discovery and no motions to force turning over financial statements. Although both parties agree to fully cooperate and provide all documents necessary to facilitate reaching an agreement, if one party falls short of this obligation, the only recourse is to scrap the process and go to court.

Boca Raton Divorce Attorneys

Every client wants an inexpensive and quick resolution of their divorce. For some couples, the collaborative divorce process may be the answer. The Boca Raton divorce attorneys at Schwartz | White have more than 50 years’ combined experience handling divorce and other family law issues. We work to resolve every case as amicably as possible, while at the same time fighting to get you a fair and equitable settlement. Our attorneys can discuss with you whether the collaborative divorce process is right for you. Call us today at 561.391.9943 to schedule your free initial consultation.

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