Adversarial divorce often brings out the worst in two people when they realize they just cannot live together anymore. But there is another way. Let’s say that because they have small children, a couple knows their best long-term interests require that they end their marriage in a decent, if not amicable, way. They must cross the bridge of divorce, so to speak, but not burn scorch the earth around it. Each spouse knows that after it’s over, each of them is going to need everything they have to start live anew as separated, single people. And both know that if each can give a bit, the marriage can be ended without further hurt to the children.
This couple should consider a collaborative divorce, a voluntary method that requires the consent of both parties and is not appropriate if one spouse is not open and honest about income and assets or other facets of the marriage. In a collaborative divorce, the lawyers for both spouses act as negotiators, and the parties, the two spouses and the two lawyers, work in face-to-face sessions to come to an agreement about the terms and conditions of the property settlement and spousal and child support. In collaborative divorce, the case must be settled, or the lawyers must withdraw.
A collaborative divorce costs much less than an action that goes on and on, or one that ends in a court trial.
In a written agreement, both spouses work together to end the marriage. That means there are no contested hearings or motions, no formal discovery, no “attack letters” between battling lawyers cheerleading their clients into a battle. Both parties agree to make a voluntary disclosure of all relevant financial information and when possible to use alterative dispute resolution methods.
Forthright divorce lawyers know that divorce litigation does damage that lasts a lifetime. Make no mistake, divorce is never easy; collaborative divorce is not fun. But it does offer a couple at the end of the road a way out of a marriage at less cost and with less emotional turmoil.