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Collaborative Divorce in Long Island

May 14, 2018

There is a stereotype that divorces are always contentious. However, many people are able to end a marriage cooperatively, by negotiating and agreeing on the terms of divorce. This is usually far less painful and less expensive for everyone involved. Although collaborative divorces are generally easier, it is important for both parties to have an experienced and qualified divorce lawyer.

What Is Collaborative Divorce Law?

A collaborative divorce is one in which a couple and their lawyers agree on divorce terms without seeking the interference of courts. This usually involves meeting to discuss the terms of the divorce and its settlement, coming to an agreement, and signing it.

In many cases, several meetings and intense negotiation are needed to accomplish this. However, it can be done with good faith, even when people do not initially agree on what they want in the divorce settlement. The cooperation and collaboration used in this process often can lay the groundwork for good communication and trust even after the divorce is final. Couples who choose this style of divorce generally remain friends after the divorce and are happier with the outcome.

This is not to say that the process is entirely without angst. Ending a marriage is usually a sad process for everyone involved. It is important for people to acknowledge their feelings but also to approach a collaborative divorce without emotional baggage. High emotions are responsible for many divorce-related court battles that end up costing both people a great deal of emotional energy and money.

Steps of a Collaborative Divorce

A collaborative divorce is a formal legal process. First, both partners agree that this is the model they wish to pursue and commit to it. Second, they discuss what is most important to them in the divorce. They then collect information in a discovery process to get all of the cards on the table. This includes financial information such as bank accounts, pensions, and property.

Different questions are answered and concerns expressed. People discuss their priorities in the divorce, which are often complementary. At the end, everyone involved has come to an agreement about child custody, family support, division of property, and terms of the divorce. An agreement is drafted, signed, notarized, and filed with the courts. The courts generally approve these documents with no further consideration.

This process is much simpler than letting courts make the decisions. There are no trials or battles. It often can be accomplished quickly and with minimal expense.

Benefits of a Collaborative Divorce

There are several benefits to a collaborative divorce. The most immediate benefit for many couples is that they are cheaper and faster. This is the most painless way to end a marriage that is no longer beneficial to everyone involved for whatever reason.

Second, people are more likely to get the things they really want in the divorce. If one partner wants the house and the other wants their entire retirement accounts, both people can easily get the things they have prioritized. In addition, couples are more likely to comply with the terms of the divorce when collaboration has occurred.

Perhaps most importantly, this process is easier on children and other family members. Rather than seeing a couple go through an extended, time-consuming, and expensive divorce with two distinct sides, the marriage is quietly ended without vitriol. This avoids the perceived need for loved ones to take sides or to become enmeshed in the process.

The benefits of a collaborative divorce are obvious to most people who have witnessed or been party to a vitriolic divorce. However, there are a few drawbacks to consider as well before choosing this type of marital dissolution.

Drawbacks of a Collaborative Divorce

There are a few drawbacks to a collaborative divorce. First, it requires the cooperation and good faith of everyone involved. This includes the lawyers. It is important to choose a lawyer who has mitigated this type of divorce before and will not push for a battle. In addition, many lawyers who specialize in this style of divorce will leave the case if it goes to litigation. This ensures that they will push as hard for collaboration as the two people involved.

In addition, it requires the good faith of both spouses. There are many cases where one partner wanted a collaborative divorce but the other would not cooperate. These cases unfortunately are usually settled by courts. This often can be avoided by having clear communication and reasonable expectations.

Second, it is easy for a person without legal representation to get the short end of the stick in this style of divorce. Most laypeople do not understand all of the legal terms in a divorce agreement nor their implications. If they do not have their own lawyer, they may sign an agreement that is not in their best interests and not entirely fair. It is important for both parties to have their own lawyer and to get expert legal advice throughout the process.

Is a Collaborative Divorce Right for You?

There are obviously many reasons to pursue a collaborative divorce. If you are interested in taking this alternative to a traditional litigation-based divorce, the first step is to talk to your soon to be ex-spouse. If they are interested, the next step is to get lawyers that are experts in handling collaborative divorces and are committed to maintaining cooperation. If you are in New York state and considering a collaborative divorce, contact Long Island Divorce Lawyers today.

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