If you’re considering a divorce and are not sure what path to take, you should know that divorce doesn’t have to be acrimonious. You don’t need to go through a long, painful trial in an impersonal courtroom and leave the outcome to be decided by a judge.
A better alternative for you may be Collaborative Divorce. Most couples, both traditional and gay, who choose this option find it to be a less destructive and less stressful way to approach divorce.
Cooperation is a necessity
A Collaborative Divorce allows you to avoid a nasty court battle to end your marriage. You, your spouse and your respective attorneys will meet to negotiate a divorce settlement.
You’ll need to cooperate to resolve issues. The success of a Collaborative Divorce will largely rest on you and your spouse’s willingness to compromise.
Advantages of Collaborative Law
If you were to choose a traditional courtroom divorce, you’d have to wait for the busy divorce courts to assign you a court date. The judge would control the proceedings and make the decisions.
In a Collaborative Law Divorce, you and your spouse will determine when you meet and what subjects are discussed. You can accelerate the process by meeting sooner and resolving issues more quickly and amicably.
Because you’ll both have input in the final agreement, you’re more likely to be satisfied and willing to abide by its stipulations, which reduces the chances you’ll end up back in court down the road arguing over them.
Keep It Confidential
In a traditional courtroom divorce, all aspects of your case are placed into the public domain. Details like your income, how you parent and any “dirty laundry” could become public as you make your arguments to the court.
In a Collaborative Divorce, you and your spouse will control the information flow. What goes into your agreement and the negotiations to arrive at those decisions are confidential. You will have to file papers with the court, but what’s in those papers is nobody’s business but your own.
Step #1 is the Participation Agreement
Before divorce negotiations can begin in a Collaborative Divorce, both you, your spouse and your respective lawyers must sign a participation agreement. It helps establish the ground rules for the upcoming discussions.
It states that both parties have agreed to negotiate a divorce agreement without going to court and are committed to the process. If any experts such as accountants or custody specialists are needed, they’ll need to be approved by both parties.
Finally, if negotiations break down and you’re unable to arrive at an agreement, then the Collaborative Attorneys must be replaced by traditional divorce attorneys.
The Collaborative Process
Lawyers for you and your spouse will guide you through the Collaborative process. It will begin with full disclosure of your income. Eventually you’ll meet to discuss the various issues, such as division of property, assets and debts.
You’ll also need to develop a co-parenting plan if you have children. You and your spouse will work together to find a custody-visitation solution that you both feel is fair and in the best interest of your children.
Finally, your lawyers will create documents that state the decisions you’ve made. These documents are legally binding and, once signed by you and your spouse, will be submitted to the court for approval; no court hearing needed.
Choosing an Attorney
Not all family law attorneys are skilled in Collaborative Law. Those who are have received special training that will help ensure the process moves along swiftly and smoothly.
If you’re planning to divorce, talk with a Collaborative Divorce Lawyer about your situation. It’s a faster, cheaper and less emotionally taxing way to end your marriage than litigation.
Scott Schlegel of Schlegel Law Group in Orlando, FL is a trained and experienced Collaborative Divorce Lawyer who works with both straight and gay couples. He can answer your questions and help you determine if Collaborative Divorce is right for you.