Collaborative Divorce in Pennsylvania: FAQs
According to a 2019 statistical survey, Pennsylvania’s divorce rate is 2.6, meaning an average of 2.6 residents out of 1,000 end their unions each year. But every dissolution of a marriage doesn’t have to be War of the Roses 2.0, and increasingly, people are choosing the collaborative divorce route.
What Is a Collaborative Divorce?
A collaborative divorce is an excellent option for people who want to avoid court. Instead of attending hearings in front of a judge, the two parties use mediation and joint negotiations to craft an agreement. When both parties sign the terms, the lawyers oversee the legal legwork, and nobody ever has to step foot into a courtroom.
When Was Collaborative Divorce Legalized in Pennsylvania?
Gov. Tom Wolf signed the Pennsylvania Collaborative Law Act on June 28, 2018. The statute made collaborative divorce a viable option in the Keystone State.
Can We Use One Lawyer in a Collaborative Divorce to Save Money?
No. Although both attorneys work together in collaborative divorces, each party needs their own divorce lawyer to represent their best interests. Otherwise, conflicts of interest could arise.
What Other Professionals Are Involved in the Collaborative Divorce Process?
In some cases, a team of experts may be brought in to facilitate negotiations. Typically, accountants or investment planners participate in the process. If you need to establish a co-parenting schedule, you may want to enlist a child psychologist or counselor.
Are Collaborative Divorce Negotiations Confidential?
Yes. In the overwhelming majority of cases, collaborative divorce negotiations are confidential. Moreover, both parties agree to not file court pleadings unless the process proves unsuccessful.
What Are the Stages of Collaborative Divorce?
Each divorce is different, so it’s impossible to give a play-by-play of how every divorce will unfold. Some couples may only need to go through four stages to get it done, and others may need eight. But the average collaborative divorce case cycles through the following six steps.
- Step 1: Hire lawyers
- Step 2: Sign the collaborative divorce agreement
- Step 3: Choose the professional team that will participate in negotiations
- Step 4: Engage in discussions and meetings
- Step 5: Sign the divorce settlement
- Step 6: Lawyers prepare the papers for the official divorce documents
How Long Will a Collaborative Divorce Take?
Again, every case is different. Some people are able to finalize their divorces within a few weeks, and others take months. The process is significantly shorter if you don’t have kids or many assets. Generally speaking, however, collaborative divorces move at a faster clip than litigation.
What Are the Benefits of Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce has many benefits, including:
- More control over the process
- No court-related scheduling issues
- Increased confidentiality
- Less stress/more amicable
For some families, the collaborative divorce process proves easier on the children.
What’s the Difference Between Collaborative Divorce and Mediation?
The mediation and collaborative divorce processes are very similar. The main difference is that third-party negotiators guide mediations, and collaborative divorces involve lawyers.
What Happens If Collaborative Divorce Negotiations Don’t Work?
If you and your spouse go through the collaborative divorce process and cannot reach an agreement, you can dissolve the negotiations and head to court. If you take that route, however, both of you must obtain new lawyers, as the original attorneys are required to withdraw.
Do Collaborative Divorces Cost Less Than Traditional Ones?
Each situation is different. For many people, collaborative divorces cost less than litigation. But if the negotiations are complicated, the price tag for both could be comparable.
For some Pennsylvania couples, collaborative divorce may be the way to go. To explore your options, consider speaking with a divorce lawyer at the Law Office of Joanne Kleiner. You can reach us by calling our Jenkintown office at (215) 886-1266.