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What is Collaborative Law?

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What is Collaborative Law?

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Collaborative law or collaborative divorce is a legal process that allows spouses to work collaboratively with all parties to come to a mutually satisfying agreement. Although not always feasible, when collaborative law is possible, it can save time, money, and stress in the divorce process. The spouses in a collaborative divorce are both typically represented by their own lawyer who attends joint meetings with them to work through the details of the divorce agreement. The goal of collaborative divorces is to settle the divorce without going to trial.

Collaborative law is an alternative to a contested divorce.

Depending on the couple, contested divorces can take much more time and money to resolve than a collaborative divorce. Contested divorces typically entail each spouse hiring their own attorney, failing to agree on the details of the divorce such as property division, child custody, etc., and battling out the dispute in court. That said, contested divorces do not have to be stressful, embittering procedures; divorce lawyers point out that a willingness to cooperate with each other can do wonders for decreasing the time and money spent on the divorce process, including contested divorces.

However, collaborative divorces take this is a step farther, focusing on the benefits of negotiation and mediation to avoid going to court at all. This also results in a more informal setting for deciding the matter, if one or both spouses has some anxiety about going to court and feels that the matter can be handled without trial.

Collaborative divorces generally require both parties to be open to honest exchanges and a willingness to compromise.

The success of collaborative law depends largely on the spouses themselves. If a couple is unwilling to engage in open, honest communication with each other and the attorneys present, or is unwilling to compromise on important details of the divorce, it is possible that a contested divorce might be a better option. However, for divorces in which both spouses are seeking a swift, inexpensive, and relatively amicable end, collaborative divorce might offer an excellent solution. Wilful collaboration between parties increases the likelihood that both spouses will feel satisfied with the resulting outcome.

Collaborative law should not be done without an attorney.

Despite the focus on the spouses’ personal engagement, it is important to note that every divorce should involve an attorney on some level. For couples who bypass both a contested and collaborative divorce and desire to draw up the papers themselves—although this is generally advised against—it’s still important to hire an attorney to look over the final paperwork to make sure everything has been accounted for, and that it is, in fact, enforceable. Collaborative divorces also require the help of an attorney, preferably one who has experience practicing collaborative law and is skilled at interpersonal negotiations.

To learn more about collaborative law or to ask a question about the divorce process, reach out to an experienced collaborative divorce attorney.

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