What is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative Divorce is the newest alternative to resolving divorce issues outside of Court.
In a Collaborative Divorce, the parties agree to put forth good faith and full disclosure to settle their divorce issues in a private, non-threatening environment, outside of Court. Each party retains an attorney. The parties and the attorneys sign a participation agreement, whereby they pledge to put forth good faith and full disclosure to settle the divorce issues outside of Court without the threat of litigation.
A neutral financial professional, divorce coach, and child specialist are available to be part of the collaborative divorce team as needed. If a party decides to terminate the collaborative divorce process, both attorneys must withdraw from representing the clients in a litigious divorce.
Who are the Neutral Team Members?
The Collaborative Divorce process recognizes emotional and financial issues exist in the divorce process as well as issues regarding the children.
The neutral Divorce Coach and Child Specialist assist the parties as needed, providing suggestions, while allowing the parties to retain control of the ultimate agreement.
The neutral Financial Professional works with the parties to determine financial and budget issues, providing the parties with information to help them mutually resolve financial issues.
Why should I consider Collaborative Divorce?
• You want a civilized, respectful resolution of the issues.
• You would like to keep open the possibility of friendship with your partner down the road.
• You want to protect your children from the harm associated with litigated disputes.
• You and your partner have a circle of friends or extended family in common that you both want to remain connected to.
• You have ethical or spiritual beliefs that place high value on taking personal responsibility and handling conflicts with integrity.
• Your value control and autonomous decision and do not want to hand over decisions about your future financial and/or child-rearing arrangements to a stranger (i.e. judge)
• You recognize the restricted range of outcomes generally available in the public court system and want a more creative and individualized range of choices available to you and your spouse or partner for resolving issues.
• You understand that conflict resolution with integrity involves not only achieving your own goals but finding a way to achieve the reasonable goals of the other person.
• You and your spouse or partner will commit your intelligence and energy towards creative problem solving rather than toward recrimination or revenge fixing the problem rather then placing the blame.
• You value privacy in your personal affairs and do not want the details of your divorce to be available in the public court record.
What are some benefits of Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative Divorce focuses on all the couple reaching a mutually agreed upon settlement of their disputes. The process results in invaluable benefits. It creates a cooperative environment where communication remains open, which provides a setting where the parties can work together to meet the needs of your family moving forward. This helps set a tone for open communication and reduced conflicts in the future.
It establishes a team instead of adversaries. Your lawyer supports you, your spouse's lawyer supports your spouse, but you all work together and in doing so, retain control of the process.
In matters requiring expert opinions, both parties can jointly hire one independent consultant, which helps shorten the duration of the case and the overall expense.
You and your spouse shape the agreement together, which means you both are more likely to adhere to it. That diminishes the parental conflict the adversarial system generates and helps you protect your children from facing the anguish and divided loyalties that result.
You can schedule meetings without waiting for court dates. That means you generally spend less time and, as a result, less money, to reach closure. It also means you reduce the fear and anxiety associated with court proceedings.
Your issues stay within the collaborative law setting. That gives you more privacy and greater confidentiality, and less stress during an already stressful time.
Will Collaborative Divorce Work for Me?
The Collaborative Law process is well-known and used successfully throughout the world, but unfortunately there is no guarantee that it will work in every case. For starters, both you and your spouse must agree to participate in the Collaborative Divorce process, and there must be no history of domestic violence. If a party decides to terminate the process, both attorneys and the attorneys' law firms cannot represent the parties in litigation, so basically both parties have to start "from scratch" retaining new attorneys. This may actually provide an incentive to the divorcing parties to successfully complete the collaborative divorce, so they do not have to "start over". That being said, if you and your spouse are interested and committed to the collaborative divorce process, and work in good faith and with full disclosure, you will probably find the collaborative divorce process to be a better choice for your family as a whole and less costly than the traditional divorce process.
Call us at 856.439.0068 to find out more about the Collaborative Divorce Process.
Attorney Karen P. Sampson is an experienced, trained collaborative divorce attorney, a founding member and a Past-President of the South Jersey Collaborative Divorce Professional, a founding member of the New Jersey Council of Collaborative Practice Groups, and a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Divorce Professionals. She has successfully handled many collaborative divorce matters.