Collaborative divorce or conscious uncoupling, it’s all the rage these days, even in Hollywood. So while no one plans on getting divorced, if you feel you’re left with no other option collaboration rather than a winner takes all, slash and burn divorce can your best option. Unfortunately, if you’re bitter enough to walk away from a marriage it can be difficult to make collaborative decisions about how to split assets and how to amicably co-parent.
How does a collaborative divorce work?
The first step in the collaborative divorce process is to find an attorney who specializes in collaborative law, litigation and mediation. Find someone who understands that litigation is something everyone wants to avoid because it is a terrible process for spouses and children. Attorneys warn, however, that even if you choose a collaborative divorce it will not be easy. If you and your spouse negotiated easily together you probably wouldn’t be getting divorced.
Keep in mind, in a collaborative divorce each spouse will have their own lawyer, but the lawyers will work together to reach a harmonious result. The benefit is that a collaborative divorce can save spouses money. Although costs can be difficult to assess, most experts believe an average divorce costs between $15,000 and $30,000. If you are able to collaborate with your spouse you may get the price lowered to about $7,500.
Negatives of a collaborative divorce
While a collaborative divorce may be cheaper, it’s not for everyone. One consideration is that if your collaboration is not successful your lawyer will have to withdraw from the process, which can cost money as you get your new lawyer up to speed on the case.
Some experts also believe because the lawyers are working towards mutually satisfying solutions or compromises, it’s difficult for a lawyer to represent your interests in the divorce. Of course, if you have chosen to collaborate with your spouse it makes sense that you are also looking for mutually acceptable solutions. Some experts also suggest that because the lawyer is more involved than they might be if you decided to use mediation, less creative ideas might be generated or accepted.
Mediation an alternative to Collaboration
Another option if you do not want a collaborative divorce but you want to avoid a confrontation is to consider mediation. Although mediation and collaboration if they fail can both lead to an adversarial divorce, mediation will allow a neutral mediator to help you and your spouse negotiate some of the more complicated and emotional aspects of the divorce.
For instance, although the mediator will not decide the case for you, they can provide a less expensive method for resolving divorce issues such as child support, spousal support and property division.
Experts also suggest mediation will give greater flexibility than collaboration in the divorce process. Mediation, like collaboration, can breakdown. If it does, you will have to start the process again and you will lose money. You also may be forced to begin the process with a new lawyer. Before you make any decisions, it’s important to understand your options and what might work best for you.
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