Another Reason to Consider Collaborative Divorce
Contentiousness and divorce are two things that are closely associated in many people’s minds, which make sense given the emotional impact of the decision, and the stress of the legal process. It is almost impossible to entirely avoid all disagreement in divorce, otherwise, the couple would probably not need to consider ending the marriage. However, the inevitable disagreements do not necessarily mean that a court must be involved in formulating the couple’s divorce settlement. While the court is the only entity that can legally end a marriage, spouses seeking divorce can decide all outstanding issues, such as child custody, property division and alimony, in alternative, private processes that allow them to control the settlement terms. By avoiding the divisive atmosphere of court, the parties will have much better chance of preserving a functioning relationship, which is essential if the couple plans to exercise equal time-sharing of a child after divorce. Children are known to experience negative and long-lasting effects following hotly-disputed divorces, and a new study suggests such experiences may also compromise a person’s immune system into adulthood, making them more susceptible to contracting viruses and infections. Couples wanting a more amicable split have several alternative resolution methods to choose from when negotiating divorce, but the one particularly designed to promote a healthier relationship between divorcing parties is the collaborative divorce process.
What Is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce is a non-adversarial process aimed at producing an atmosphere that allows the parties to negotiate a mutually fair and beneficial divorce settlement. This process requires a large amount of cooperation between the parties, and a commitment to avoiding litigation. Florida recently passed a law on the use of the collaborative process in divorce in order to regulate how to initiate and end the process, as well as to protect the confidentiality of the information disclosed and discussed in each session.
Collaborative divorce is a voluntary procedure that begins when the parties enter into a collaborative law participation agreement. This agreement can be formed prior to legal action, or if the parties decide to pause litigation to pursue this option instead. The agreement says the parties will work to resolve disagreements without court intervention and negotiate in good faith, and includes a list of documents and evidence needed to proceed. Specially-trained collaborative law attorneys help the spouses draft this agreement, and are there to protect each party’s rights and inform him/her of the legal consequences of an agreement. Importantly, if the collaborative process is abandoned at any point, the collaborative law attorney cannot represent their party in court, and a new attorney must be found.
Because this process requires a lot of communication and compromise to be successful, other professionals are often used to help facilitate interactions between the parties, including financial experts and mental health professionals. The process concludes when the parties resolve all necessary issues, both parties agree to withdraw, or either party initiates court action.
When Collaborative Divorce May Be a Good Option
Collaborative divorce offers parties the opportunity to craft their own settlement agreement, which gives them the freedom courts do not have to make the agreement flexible enough to account for the unique needs of the family. Additionally, the process is faster and less expensive than traditional litigation, and ideally allows the parties to emerge with better communication skills, a key to avoiding child custody disputes in the future. Thus, this process is most likely to be fruitful for couples who have some amount of common ground to use as a starting point, can remain civil to one another, and have a vested interest in not escalating the divorce to a battle of wills.
Talk to a Divorce Attorney
Choosing the right process to conclude your divorce is one of the most important decisions you will make on this issue, and an experienced divorce attorney is best equipped to assess which process makes sense in your situation. The Tampa law firm of Bubley & Bubley, P.A. is committed to making this process as quick and easy as possible, and represents clients in traditional and alternative resolution divorce procedures. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.