Collaborative Divorce Provides an Alternative Way to Settle Divorce Issues
With average divorce costs in Pennsylvania ranging from about $15,000 to over $21,000 for marriages involving children, you might be considering other options that avoid litigation. One option is collaborative divorce, which takes a team approach to the divorce process with the goal of reaching a settlement that both parties are satisfied with while avoiding a lengthy and costly court battle.
Understanding Collaborative Divorce
A collaborative divorce is a type of alternative dispute resolution process in which both spouses work together during the divorce negotiations, with a team of experts to guide and support them, until they reach a divorce settlement that meets their needs. The team of experts includes each spouse’s lawyer as well as a collaborative divorce lawyer. It can also include financial experts, accountants, mental health experts and even parenting coaches as needed.
Before the process begins, the spouses and their lawyer sign a document stating that they commit to working collaboratively to resolve their issues and reach an agreement without going to court. During this team process, both spouses receive neutral information about the various issues related to divorce from the experts and their divorce lawyer so that they can continue to work towards a resolution.
Determining If Collaborative Divorce Is Right for You
The collaborative divorce process will not be right for every family. However, couples who get along well and can commit to moving past the emotional issues that led to the split might be able to reach an agreement this way. It can also work for couples who might be struggling with their communications as the mental health expert in the team and even the parenting coach might help them overcome these problems so that the couple can continue to work together to achieve a peaceful resolution to their issues. Couples with children might also choose this option, as it can lead to a quicker, less expensive resolution to help the family move forward in a positive manner after divorce.
During this process, both spouses must be ready to be open and honest about their assets and to negotiate in good faith so that they can reach an equitable divorce settlement. If there were, or there continue to be, issues with domestic violence or drug or alcohol abuse or if one of the spouses is afraid to share a room with the other, collaborative divorce might not be the right fit for your case.
The Benefits of Collaborative Divorce
Choosing a collaborative divorce over going to court can provide you and your family with many benefits. It allows the couple to take ownership of the divorce process and decide which issues they choose to prioritize. The couple benefits from the support and guidance of a team of professionals. Advice from these experts would be expensive if you were to seek it in the course of a typical divorce hearing.
Further, a collaborative divorce is less stressful and sets a good example. Working together with your ex-spouse shows your children that you can have positive conflict resolution and compromise and that not every life event has to be an emotionally devastating ordeal. Additionally, a collaborative divorce can save you time, stress, and money as a shorter divorce can often mean a less expensive divorce.
What Happens If This Approach Does Not Work?
While collaborative divorce can work for many families, the process can fail if the parties can’t reach an agreement that satisfies both sides. If either spouse disagrees with the proposed solutions and the negotiations stall, the process fails. When this happens, all of the experts involved in the case, including the lawyers, must resign. The couple then has to go to court, with new lawyers representing them and new financial experts to help them resolve their divorce issues.
If you are considering a divorce and want to explore the options available to you for the process, you can contact the Law Office of Joanne Kleiner. We are located in Jenkintown, so call us at 215-886-1266 to set up an appointment for a consultation to see if collaborative divorce is right for you.