Matrimonial and Family Law Blog

Friday, May 24, 2019

What is a Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative law is a process of settling disputes without court intervention through an honest, voluntary, good-faith exchange of information between the parties involved in the dispute. The focus of the collaborative divorce process is to arrive at a solution that is beneficial for both parties and their children. In a collaborative divorce, the parties commit to working out the issues related to the divorce without litigating matters in court with the assistance of a New York family law lawyer trained in handling collaborative divorce cases.

What are the Steps in a Collaborative Divorce?

While each situation is different and each couple has a unique set of circumstances that might impact the process of a collaborative divorce, the typical steps involved in a collaborative divorce are:

  • Each party retains a New York collaborative divorce attorney.

  • Before meeting with the other party, each spouse meets with his or her family law attorney to discuss the relevant issues to be addressed during the collaborative divorce process.

  • All parties sign an agreement pledging to settle the matter without litigation. The agreement is a good-faith “promise” to avoid litigation, but it does not prevent either party from withdrawing from the collaborative process and filing a divorce petition. However, if the matter cannot be resolved without litigation, the attorneys are barred from representing either spouse during the divorce proceeding.

  • The spouses and their attorneys meet to discuss options for resolving all issues related to the divorce. The focus of the meetings should be on problem-solving instead of blaming each other for the end of the marriage. The parties and their attorneys may meet individually and together several times as they negotiate a settlement that considers the best interests of both spouses and their children.

  • The parties continue meeting to work out a settlement agreement or until one or both parties state that they wish to proceed with a court action.

Benefits of the Collaborative Divorce Process

The collaborative divorce process has many benefits including:

  • Same money and time. Litigating a divorce often costs more in attorney fees and can be a lengthy process.

  • The information disclosed during the collaborative divorce process is confidential. Neither party can use the concessions and disclosures discussed during the meetings against the other party during a subsequent divorce proceeding.

  • Parties often discover that settlement agreements from a collaborative divorce are easier to maintain because the parties can tailor the agreements to their needs instead of allowing a judge to decide the terms of the divorce.

  • The parties can hire a collaborative team of professionals to help them throughout the process, including counselors, financial experts, and child specialists.

  • The collaborative divorce process can settle all issues related to a divorce, including property division, alimony, child support, parenting plans, and custody.

  • The parties are focused on resolving issues through cooperation instead of “winning” the divorce through any means possible.

Contact a New York Family Law Lawyer to Discuss a Collaborative Divorce

If you believe that the collaborative divorce process may work in your situation, the first step is to meet with a New York family law attorney who has experience handling collaborative divorces. A collaborative divorce is not the best choice in every situation. An attorney can help you evaluate your needs, goals, and circumstances to determine if the collaborative law process will work for you.

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