To most people divorce means everyone for themselves. Divorce can get ugly, with endless arguments over the terms and even court proceedings. But it doesn’t have to be contentious or aggressive. Collaborative divorce presents the option of a peaceful divorce process.
What is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce is a new method of alternative dispute resolution in family law. Simply put, it’s a method of practicing the law in which all parties work collaboratively to achieve a negotiated outcome. Lawyers from both parties in the divorce agree to work together to employ cooperative techniques — instead of popular adversarial strategies and litigation — to resolve conflicts. Everyone involved is committed to a peaceful resolution of the conflict and agrees not to commence litigation during negotiations.
During a collaborative divorce, both parties and their lawyers enter into a participation agreement, or a contract of sorts, where it’s agreed that the lawyers will withdraw from the litigation process if a settlement can’t be reached. Participation agreements also include several provisions about what each party can and can’t do during the divorce mediation.
These include provisions such as the following:
- Outstanding issues will be settled in a constructive, non-adversarial manner using interest-based negotiation.
- Both parties will rely on their lawyers to help them reach a settlement.
- Neutral experts may be involved.
- Communications during the divorce mediation process will be fair and constructive, and neither party will take advantage of the other’s errors.
- The parties will minimize emotional damage to their children as a result of the separation by acting in the best interests of the children.
- In regards to the children, the status quo will be maintained, and no unilateral changes will be made without consent to assets, insurance or other matters.
Why Collaborative Divorce is Ideal
Separating from a spouse is incredibly difficult for everyone involved, and contentious legal proceedings only worsen matters. During collaborative divorce mediation, the lawyers agree to manage conflicts, including emotional and relationship issues, in a creative way. Meeting with both parties and their lawyers allows all issues of the separation to be explored in a constructive way using their own thoughts and feelings. These techniques often result in a less stressful, fair settlement
In addition, collaborative divorce has several practical benefits including:
- Lower cost than litigation
- More control over the outcome
- Greater opportunity for compromise
- Less time-consuming
You may be wondering at this point what the downsides of collaborative divorce are. In truth, there are none. If both parties are committed to the process and are willing to reach a peaceful resolution, collaborative divorces are quite successful.
For more information about collaborative divorce and other kinds of divorce proceedings, contact the expert attorneys at Bineham & Gillen, San Antonio’s leading family law and divorce practice.