Collaboration and the Future of Divorce
The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals is a community of legal, financial, mental health and other professionals committed to utilizing a collaborative approach to conflict resolution. The IACP now comprises thousands of attorneys who focus on collaborative law. The organization predicts that collaboration will become the default approach to divorce in the U.S. as it becomes more accessible and gains more visibility.
What Is Collaborative Law?
This type of law essentially is a more structured approach to mediation. Each party has his or her own representation, and those representatives work with the parties to assemble a support team. That team assists the parties in moving toward the desired resolution in a manner that serves everyone well. In the domain of divorce, it is a means through which a married couple can separate legally without the involvement of the court in a way that has the children’s and each other’s best interests in mind. The support team for a collaborative divorce will include legal representation, but it can also include:
- Tax experts
- Social workers
- Child specialists
- Financial advisors
- Real estate evaluators
- Mental health professionals
Benefits of the Collaborative Approach
Collaborative divorces are suitable for opposite- and same-sex couples, and they can be particularly desirable in the latter due to the additional challenges often present in same-sex divorces. This process involves a team working together to achieve the best possible resolution for everyone involved. That may sound like it requires a lot of money, but the reality is that litigation is quite expensive and often costs much more than collaboration no matter how diverse the support team. The collaborative process does require that everyone be present, involved and committed to working together. When those conditions are met, there are many ways that this process can be beneficial. Some of the additional advantages of collaborative divorces include:
- The ability to preserve relationships
- Cheaper costs and less time
- Lack of court-imposed deadlines
- Resolutions remain private
- An emphasis on areas of mutual benefit
- Agreements made in a forward-focused manner
Collaboration Versus Mediation
Both collaboration and mediation provide a non-adversarial vehicle for divorce. Collaboration is often viewed as a more structured form of mediation. Mediation, therefore, can be viewed as providing more flexibility. After all, it only requires three parties: an attorney and the divorcing couple. That structure, however, provides many benefits, such as having a mental health professional ensure that the couple and the children are going through this process in a manner that is healthy for them now and also over the long term. Perhaps another way to appreciate the difference is that mediation focuses on the efforts of the mediator while collaboration focuses on the efforts of the couple.
Collaboration Is Not Necessarily Easier
When it comes to divorce, teamwork generally produces more productive results. IACP statistics show that most collaborations conclude in under nine months while cases involving mediation and/or litigation take much longer on average. That does not mean that collaboration is easy. A collaborative divorce can require a lot of hard work. Nevertheless, that hard work is channeled in a positive way toward establishing the basis for everyone involved to have healthy relationships post-divorce.
The Future of Collaboration
Collaboration has achieved so much success in domestic relations in recent years that there has been a movement to apply these concepts in other domains. The U.S. government has started to train federal employees in this field, and other legal areas where this is being explored as an alternative dispute resolution tactic include probate and real estate.
Explore a Collaborative Approach Today
If you and your partner have decided to separate or divorce, then collaborative law can give you control and provide the tools and resources to move forward in a happy and healthy manner. At Joanne Kleiner & Associates, we focus on Pennsylvania family and divorce law and have helped many couples achieve a mutually beneficial resolution. Contact us online, or call our office in Jenkintown at (215) 886-1266 today to set up a consultation.