In collaborative divorce, each party has their own attorney who gives them guidance and assistance in negotiating their divorce settlement. But unlike a traditional, litigated divorce, the parties enter into a formal agreement saying that they will negotiate and reach their own settlement prior to filing divorce papers in court. What this does is ensure that decisions stay in the control of the parties rather than putting decisions in the hands of a judge. It is also the opposite from a traditional, litigated divorce in which the very first step is to “file papers,” which effectively disempowers the parties by asking the judge to make all decisions for them. The collaborative divorce agreement also has safeguards built into it which prevent one party from negotiating with their fingers crossed behind their back, so to speak, which can be a risk of negotiations during traditional litigated divorce proceedings. After a complete settlement is reached, court papers are filed and the couple obtains an uncontested divorce which incorporates their agreement into the divorce decree. By reducing conflict, resources found on the web page of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals indicated that (even with the cost of the consulting professionals)the cost of a collaborative divorce is generally about half the cost of a traditional, litigated divorce. Of course, “cheap” is not the goal. The goal is a quality result that is fair and will be workable for all parties in the long run.
What if the parties cannot make decisions on their own? This rarely happens because of the powerful disupte resolution model employed by collaborative divorce. First of all, collaborative divorce attorneys are specifically trained in positive models of negotiations which are designed to help both parties identify and meet their most fundamental needs and interests. To help in the process or reaching agreement and also to ensure the long term sustainability of the result, the parties also agree to consult (as needed) with neutral experts who are also certified as collaborative professionals. Professionals become certified in the areas of finance (for issues involving support and property division), mental health (including divorce coaches and child specialists), and mediation, as well as in legal representation (attorneys). In general, so long as parties agree, they can use any type of neutral professional they choose for expert feedback and advice. The Collaborative Divorce model is an extremely powerful method for helping families stay in control of their own destiny and it also focuses resources on finding solutions to challenges rather spending resources battling in court.
To become certified as a collaborative professional, individuals who are already licensed in their relevant field of expertise must take an additional training course which equips them to work as a team with other professionals to guide the divorce process. If anyone tells you they offer collaborative divorce, ask if they are certified by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, as this is an important measure of professionalism and quality.
For help deciding if collaborative divorce is an option in your case, call 803-414-0185 for a consultation, or fill out the contact form below.