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What is collaborative divorce?

Litigation can be a long and expensive process for spouses to go through to obtain a divorce. However, some couples may consider the collaborative divorce process instead. Through the collaborative divorce process spouses and their specially trained attorneys negotiate to reach a settlement for divorce issues.

For many couples, this process is preferred because it is often faster and cheaper than litigation. Additionally, it allows each person more control over the outcome than he or she would have had in court with a judge making the final decisions.

How does a collaborative divorce work?

During a collaborative divorce, each spouse begins by meeting privately with the collaborative attorney he or she has chosen. These attorneys are specially trained to diffuse conflict and facilitate effective communication. After initially meeting with their clients, the attorneys will create the appropriate professional team for the situation and set up the first meeting.

At the first meeting, the spouses typically commit to the process and may address some other issues important to their divorce. Throughout the process, the needs of each spouse, and the needs of their children if there are any, are the professional team's focus as the team explores settlement options. Often, conflicts are resolved with creative solutions that could not have been options in court.

If, for some reason, the spouses cannot reach an agreement, the collaborative process ends. The couple can still resolve their dispute in court, but they will both need to retain new attorneys.

Who should consider collaborative divorce?

Collaborative divorce may not be a beneficial process for everyone. High conflict relationships or situations involving addiction issues or abuse issues may not be appropriate for the collaborative divorce process. However, spouses who are willing to share information freely and work together are often successful with this process. While many different kinds of people benefit from the collaborative divorce process, often times this process is embraced by parents who may have disagreements, but who are willing to work together for the sake of their children.

Every couple's situation is unique. Although a traditional divorce process may be an appropriate choice for some, the collaborative divorce process offers an alternative for those who would prefer to avoid a traditional court process.

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