You used to love each other. You would have conquered any obstacle for them. You promised to be by their side until the end came. Perhaps you see his or her face in the smiles and laughs of your children. Years gone, angry words said, acts done that cannot be undone. Your love is gone. The obstacles became too many. The end came sooner than expected. You no longer love each other in the same way and you want out. Your next decision could impact the way you leave your marriage behind and how quickly you are able to recover from the loss of same. If you have children, this next decision could assist them with transitioning into a new chapter of their lives or hurt them for years to come.
Do you use a traditional, slow, sometimes unpredictable, legal system that uses public courtroom hearings and dueling sides to examine the evidence and arrive at the truth with little or no regard for the emotional toll it may take on each party? Or, is there a more peaceful, discrete, emotionally comforting manner of ending your marriage without having to risk engaging in an open public courtroom spectacle? What if an alternative existed where potentially the only public courtroom hearing you had to attend was to present a martial settlement agreement and obtain a final judgment of dissolution of marriage? What if this alternative could be tailored to meet the needs of each individual case so that the needs of your family, instead of litigation, could be placed first and met? This alternative already does exist, and its name is “collaborative divorce.”
Collaborative divorce is said to have begun in the late 1980s and early 1990s in the State of Minnesota. A family law attorney grew tired of how the legal system would often require former couples to litigate against each other over assets, liabilities, and children. Its development since then has spurred the birth of many professional organizations that hold out collaborative divorce as the best alternative for families seeking to minimize the emotional tolls and uncertainties of the traditional legal system for divorcing couples and their children. Collaborative divorce is a negotiation process that seeks to holistically address the legal, financial, and emotional needs of divorcing couples and their children, as they end their marital relationships in comfortable, discrete, informative, and peaceful environments for reaching a settlement.
Legal. In collaborative divorces both parties have their own attorney, knowledgeable with the collaborative divorce process, to represent their interests, guide, and advise them through the collaborative process. Each party’s attorney obtains, provides, and exchanges discovery, reviews the evidence, provides legal advice, assists in negotiations, and works on drafting the final settlement agreement.
Financial. In collaborative divorces the parties can agree to retain the services of a financial professional trained and experienced in the collaborative divorce process. The financial professional reviews the parties’ financial details, assesses each of their unique financial needs, and proposes recommendations on how to meet these needs. The financial assessment can then be used to guide both parties and their attorneys in negotiating a settlement that both sides fully understand and may be able to accept.
Emotional. In collaborative divorces, the parties can address emotional issues by agreeing to retain the services of a mental health therapist or other suitable mental health professional trained and experienced with the collaborative divorce process. The therapist will assess the parties’ needs and offer them advice on how to deal with the emotional aspects of their divorce so that they may better communicate, participate in, and remain informed during settlement negotiations. For couples with children, the parties can retain the services a child therapist trained and experienced in the collaborative divorce process for purposes of assessing the children’s needs and making recommendations on how to address and fit them within a time-sharing schedule and parenting plan.
Comfort, Discrete, Informative, and Peaceful. Collaborative divorces are scheduled and tailored to meet the individual needs of each family. There are no judicial filings or hearings to attend until after a final settlement agreement is reached and signed by both parties. Collaborative divorce conferences and meetings are held in comfortable, private, professional environments with collaborative divorce professionals. All collaborative divorce professionals and the parties’ are required to sign a confidentiality agreement which makes the collaborative divorce process discrete and confidential. Having the services of collaborative divorce professionals provides each party with the information and services they need to assist them in making informed decisions about resolving their divorce case through settlement. Collaborative divorce provides the parties with peace of mind from knowing that they can communicate their concerns openly, protect their privacy, and have options to include additional experienced professionals that may be needed for reaching a final settlement that resolves their divorce and lets them transition to a new beginning.
Collaborative divorce is not for every family, and Curry Law Group P.A. has attorneys who are experienced in both the traditional and collaborative divorce processes. To see if your particular family situation would benefit from the collaborative process, call us to schedule an initial consultation with one of our family law attorneys and let us know that you are interested in determining whether collaborative divorce is for you.