A collaborative divorce creates a customized process for getting the case resolved without going to court which is much faster than other types of divorce and with much less resentment.
What Is a Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce is a specialized divorce process that is completely controlled by the parties and their attorneys. The best way to think about it is that it is like building a container around your divorce process, and everything happens within that container, according to your agreements. Entering into a collaborative divorce process is entering into an agreement to avoid litigation completely.
Depending on your jurisdiction, a collaborative case may or may not begin with the filing of your divorce case. From there, there will normally be an initial four way meeting with the attorneys and the parties. At this meeting, the parties identify the major issues in the cases, potential challenges, how to deal with discovery, and attempt to lay out a structure for their divorce.
The parties also build a team of qualified professionals, depending on the unique needs of their case, that help them navigate their divorce, make informed decisions, and ultimately resolve their divorce case in a more efficient, and less emotionally draining manner.
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Building a Collaborative Divorce Team
In order to adequately address the parties’ financial and emotional needs and goals, a collaborative team is drafted. Depending on the needs and the particular issues in the divorce, the collaborative divorce team may include a group of party-neutral specialists.
A neutral financial specialist can help the parties in gathering all necessary financial documentation and work with the parties and their lawyers to clearly identify and address the present and future financial implications of possible settlement options. This specialist helps the parties address the actual financial issues without wasting time with unnecessary and irrelevant financial disclosures.
A neutral child specialist can help the parties develop a thoughtful parenting plan for the children as well as address concerns the children may be having. This mental health professional’s role is not to make decision for the parties but to help them identify current and long-term emotional issues associated with children and the divorce process.
A divorce coach is usually played by a mental health professional who is concentrated on helping the parties address current emotional concerns and develop the skills necessary to be able to communicate and work together in the future—especially where there are children involved.
Less Emotional Turmoil
The collaborative divorce process is undoubtedly less emotionally taxing than regular, litigated divorce. This is because it is a far less adversarial process than the normal divorce process. There are no court hearings in which the parties’ are making their allegations public, and while it is still emotionally challenging, in a collaborative divorce, the parties are forced to focus on needs based resolution rather than simply taking extreme positions at the beginning of their case.
More Control and Less Time
Because the parties and their attorneys create the infrastructure for their cases, collaborative divorce takes control away from the courts and judges, and places it firmly in the hands of the parties and their attorneys. Collaborative divorce is also, typically, a much faster process than regular litigated divorce, in which the parties have to wait weeks, and sometimes months to get a hearing and a ruling from the courts.
One of the goals of collaborative divorce is to obtain your divorce at a lower cost than if you proceed with litigation. One thing that is important to remember in this regard, however, is that most litigated divorce cases are still resolved through settlement rather than trial. So, while theoretically a collaborative divorce case should cost less than a litigated divorce, this is not always the case. Remember that when you add additional members to your collaborative team, while that can have HUGE advantages in your case, it does add some additional cost to your divorce.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is collaborative divorce?
Collaborative divorce is a relatively new type of divorce that has grown popular in recent years. In a collaborative divorce, both spouses and their attorneys take control of how the divorce process will work. They build a customized process for getting the case resolved without going to court, which may include the use of financial and child custody advisers or experts. In a collaborative divorce, the attorneys do not remain neutral like they do in a mediated divorce; each attorney provides his or her client with independent legal advice regarding any proposed agreements. The parties do not go to court or rely upon the court system for rulings.
How long does collaborative divorce take?
The collaborative divorce process is generally much faster than the regular route to divorce. The timing is completely dependent on how quickly the parties and their attorneys want to (and are able to) move forward in the process.
How much does collaborative divorce cost?
It is not possible to provide a fixed cost for collaborative divorce. The cost is dependent on how long the process takes, how complicated the issues are, and how many experts the parties chose to hire. While collaborative is typically quicker, less painful and more private than normal divorce, it can be more expensive because of the use of experts. Collaborative divorce, however, is typically far less expensive than going to trial.