Collaborative divorce is one way to approach the divorce process. While this approach is not for everyone, if both partners are on good terms, it can make divorce as easy as possible.
What is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce is basically what it sounds like: the two partners work together to figure out the details of their divorce. Generally, it’s better for partners to figure out a plan for their divorce on their own, without a judge’s ruling or a trip to court. The partners know best their own situation, while a judge may hear a few hours of testimony and then making a decision that affects many people’s lives. Couples who use collaborative divorce have the guidance of their individual lawyers. In some cases, financial advisers, child specialists/psychologists, or divorce coaches may be brought in to help guide the process.
Each party sets up some ground rules and then works to negotiate splitting of the assets and debts, child support and custody, and any other issues that need to be resolved. Many states have laws about collaborative divorce and they differ, so consult your attorney about the specifics for your case. Here is a guide to collaborative divorce in North Carolina.
When Collaborative Divorce Works
This approach to divorce works if the two partners can communicate and keep an open mind. The partners must be willing to listen to the advice of the professionals guiding the process and accept some recommendations. Both your lawyer and your spouse’s lawyer must be trained in collaborative divorce law for the process to work.
There is also an element of trust. While your attorney will certainly make sure the document you create does not harm your interests, he or she may not be able to verify your soon-to-be-ex’s honesty.
Collaborative divorce is not for you if you and your partner cannot speak to each other or are arguing about the finances or the children.
If You Get Stuck
This process is not the same as mediation or arbitration. However, if the parties struggle to reach agreement, a mediator may be called in to help. If an agreement still cannot be reached, you may consider arbitration or instead go to court.
Learn more about the different ways to get a divorce in our workshop, held on the second Saturday of each month. Volunteer professionals — a lawyer, a therapist, and a financial adviser — are on hand to answer your questions. Register for our next workshop.