Is there a less expensive alternative to divorce than fighting in court?
Yes – it is called a Collaborative Divorce.
What is a Collaborative Divorce?
A Collaborative Divorce is a process that gives divorcing parties a way to end a marriage and restructure families without the stress, delay, and expense of litigation. While attorneys will share a commitment to collaborative law principles, each attorney has a professional duty to represent his or her own client diligently and is not the attorney for the other party.
How does the Collaborative Process work?
When a couple decides to pursue a collaborative divorce without going to court, they each hire lawyers specially trained in collaborative law. Their clients sit together in face-to-face meetings to identify and address issues in need of resolution. Collaborative lawyers also rely on a “team” approach” meaning that the parties may jointly hire personal coaches such as mental health professionals, child specialists, and financial experts to assist in gathering information and problem-solving.
How expensive is a Collaborative Divorce?
While no one can predict exactly what you will pay for this kind of representation because every case is different, a rule of thumb is that a collaborative divorce can cost nearly 90% LESS than litigation.
If I choose Collaborative Divorce, will my rights be protected and, if so how?
In a collaborative divorce process, each party's attorney has an absolute duty to represent his or her client's interests. The collaborative process does not mean that an attorney can or should be anything less than 100% on the side of his or her client. What is unique about collaborative law, however, is that the collaborative lawyer takes responsibility for advancing the client's interest in settlement (as well as other interests), and therefore zealous advocacy in a collaborative negotiation is focused on finding a mutually agreeable solution.
What happens if an agreement cannot be reached and one or both parties want a conventional divorce?
The spouses and attorneys are bound by a written pledge not to go to court over any contested issue. If an agreement cannot be reached, attorneys may suggest bringing in mediators or other professionals to facilitate a settlement. However, if one or both parties wish to discontinue the collaborative process, both attorneys are legally obligated to withdraw from representing their clients. This means that both spouses have an incentive to settle their case collaboratively in order to avoid having to hire new attorneys and begin a traditional divorce process through the court system, adding time and expense to the divorce.