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What Makes a Divorce a Collaborative Law Case?

January 7, 2018

There may come a time when a couple agrees to a divorce. It could also be possible they agree on the many issues involving their separation. The divorcing couple may only need help with filling out paperwork to present to the court and not much more. In this situation, a couple may benefit from utilizing a collaborative divorce procedure.

History
A Minnesota family law attorney developed the collaborative law process during the early 1990s. The hope for its creation was to provide a way for a more simple, fair and straightforward approach to obtaining a divorce and more. There are currently a number of organizations around the country that focus on developing the best possible ways to apply collaborative legal methods to family law situations.

Process
During the collaborative divorce process, both sides are committed to working together to resolve the issues involved in a divorce. This could include property, custody, support and more. The process can begin with the spouses creating a written agreement promising to negotiate their issues in good faith and work toward a fair resolution. This is known as a participation agreement. They will agree to disclose all pertinent information as well as provide all necessary documents. The attorneys representing the spouses will agree to follow the fundamental principles of collaborative law. Having a collaborative divorce requires each spouse and their lawyers to sign a no court agreement. This will require each attorney involved in the case to remove themselves should the spouses decide to pursue divorce litigation in court.

Agenda
Prior to each meeting, an agenda will be in place, so both sides know what will be discussed. The agenda gives the attorneys time to prepare. An agenda may also include time during the meeting for each spouse to meet privately with their attorney. As an agreement to each item is established, it will be recorded and included in the divorce document. Once all the issues have been resolved, the agreement will be written up in a document that is in legally binding form.

Meetings
During a collaborative divorce, the attorneys and the spouses will regularly meet to confirm agreements on issues. It is also common for other professionals to attend these meetings. This could be real estate experts, accountants as well as child custody specialists and more. There are times when the issues are difficult. A licensed mediator may be brought in to help find a solution. These mediators are people with an extensive knowledge of the law as well as legal procedures. They are individuals who have developed the skills necessary to guide couples to an acceptable agreement that meets the needs of each spouse. Extra care must be taken to ensure the specialists brought into these meetings are party-neutral. It’s important these professionals do not have any bias for or against either spouse.

Attorney’s Role
During the process of a collaborative divorce, the attorneys involved act as legal representatives for their clients as well as provide input for an agreeable solution. They will encourage this process for the family and all parties involved. An attorney will know when it is time to agree to hire counselors or other professionals who can handle any type of technical issues that could occur during the negotiations. An attorney will be able to review any comprehensive written agreement produced. They will ensure it validates the arrangements agreed to by their client. An attorney will protect their client’s rights.

Benefits
The collaborative approach to divorce provides many benefits to those who use it. This approach is able to provide couples with a faster divorce that is less expensive compared to traditional family litigation procedures. It will often result is less stress and emotional strains for the couple. The negotiations are done in a relaxed, informal setting where couples can have an honest and open discussion about the dissolution of their marriage. It makes it possible to determine a way to handle any possible post-settlement disputes.

Family Relationships
A collaborative divorce will provide a way for a family to preserve their existing relationships. It could be a good choice when parents are trying to protect their children from experiencing the emotionally traumatic experiences associated with divorce litigation. Parents don’t leave the future of how their family will function to others. In many cases, spouses may not even need to go to court. A collaborative divorce enables parents to control the situation.

A traditional divorce can be a mental challenge as well as emotionally draining. They can involve attorneys, multiple court dates as well as significant amounts of time and money. Things are made worse when the spouses disagree on a number of issues. When spouses agree on the vast majority of issues and have a good relationship, a collaborative divorce could make a difficult time much easier. When people believe they could benefit from a collaborative divorce, they should contact an experienced attorney. They can answer any questions and know how to get the process started.

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