Divorce doesn’t have to be the knock-down, drag-out fight we often imagine it to be. For some Georgia spouses, collaborative divorce offers another alternative. The goal is for both parties to reach a mutually beneficial agreement rather than act as opponents. If you and your spouse are headed for a divorce, E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm, LLC, can help. We offer solutions that fit your life and can advise you as to whether collaborative divorce is a viable option.
What Is Collaborative Divorce?
As the name implies, collaborative divorce involves both spouses working together to end their marriage and transition to the next stages in their respective lives. Both spouses and their attorneys agree in writing to not take the divorce to court. They also agree to be transparent with each other and to openly and honestly share information. Both sides are supported by a team of professionals who help the spouses reach their goals while looking out for their children’s interests.
Is Collaborative Divorce The Same Thing As Mediation?
Mediation involves a third-party neutral (the mediator) who attempts to guide divorce negotiations towards an agreeable resolution. However, the mediator does not advocate for either side and cannot give legal advice. If both sides have lawyers, they may or may not be present during mediation. If mediation fails to resolve the parties’ disagreements, they can then proceed to court with their respective legal counsel.
Collaborative divorce, on the other hand, involves both parties’ attorneys working together without a mediator. The role of each attorney is more along the lines of a legal advisor rather than a zealous advocate. Like mediation, the goal of collaborative divorce is settlement. However, if negotiations break down, both sides’ lawyers must withdraw from the case and the parties must retain new counsel.
What Are The Advantages?
In a collaborative divorce, the parties – rather than a judge – ultimately control the outcome. This allows them to work together for their mutual benefit and for their children’s best interests. Because it involves both sides cooperating and freely exchanging relevant information, the process typically saves time, money, and stress compared to a traditional divorce.
In a traditional divorce, the parties often spend time and money fighting each other over information concerning their finances, their children, and other issues This can result in hefty fees for attorneys and other professionals. Although you will still incur fees in the collaborative process, costs tend to be lower because the professionals’ work is focused on achieving a mutually beneficial outcome rather than fighting.
Collaborative divorce also fosters mutual respect between spouses, which can be a great benefit if they are parents. Raising a child is much easier when the parents get along, and this process can help lay the foundation for this.
What Are The Disadvantages?
You will need to hire someone with experience and training in collaborative divorce; some people may regard this as a disadvantage. In addition, collaborative divorce requires both spouses to work together. This can be a disadvantage where the spouses don’t get along or cannot trust each other.
If the collaborative process breaks down, both sides have to retain new attorneys and other professionals. This can prove costly, which is why you need to discuss the particulars of your case with an experienced Georgia collaborative divorce attorney before deciding which route to go. Collaborative divorce is generally not suitable for couples with a history of hostility, abuse, or domestic violence.
What Steps Are Involved In Collaborative Divorce?
Although every collaborative divorce is different, there are some basic steps that each one follows:
- Before the process begins, the spouses should discuss how they view the settlement in terms of finances, property, children, and so forth. Each spouse will need to retain their own lawyer, and each should consider consulting with one before making the decision to use this approach. Both lawyers will represent the best interests of their respective clients, just as with a traditional divorce.
- Once they decide on the collaborative path, both spouses will need to sign a contract agreeing to this approach and agreeing not to litigate the divorce.
- Group meetings will start taking place with both spouses, their attorneys, and any professionals who are needed (e.g. child specialists and financial advisors). Full disclosure of relevant information and exchange of documents will take place in these meetings.
- If the process is successful, a divorce settlement will be drafted, signed by the parties, and submitted to court for the judge’s approval. No one will need to go to court. If the process fails, both attorneys and any professionals will be disqualified from participating in any contested divorce proceedings.
Other Than Lawyers, Who Are The Professionals Who May Get Involved?
Depending on the circumstances in your case, the following outside professionals may be relied upon in the collaborative divorce process:
- Divorce coaches: each spouse will have a divorce coach who helps manage the emotions of the divorce and fosters communication between the parties and the other professionals.
- Financial neutral: usually an expert (e.g. CPA) who helps the parties understand the economic consequences of the divorce and works to put together a financial plan for the spouses’ futures.
- Child specialist: this individual helps children work through the pain of divorce and helps organize a parenting plan to transition the spouses to a two-household family.
Contact Our Lithonia Collaborative Divorce Attorney
Divorce can be difficult or (relatively) easy, depending on the attitudes and goals of both spouses. Whether collaborative divorce is right for you, and your spouse, will depend on many factors unique to your case. At E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm, LLC, we understand the complexities of divorce, and can discuss options with you such as the collaborative approach. Contact us today to get started.