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Collaborative divorces can lessen tension and improve civility

Media coverage of celebrity divorces and movies depicting the divorce process can make people feel as though divorce is always either messy, underhanded or an emotional rollercoaster. While certainly real-world divorces can be combative, that is not the only way the divorce process can play out.

Collaborative divorce is for couples who wish to keep things as civil as possible but are having trouble agreeing on key issues. A couple may want to preserve some level of cooperation after the divorce, especially if there are children involved, but still strongly disagree about child custody matters, for example.

Through collaborative divorce, a couple can protect their rights while still coming to a mutually agreeable divorce settlement. In a collaborative divorce, spouses obtain their own attorneys to guide them through the divorce negotiations, but do so out of court. This allows each spouse to understand his or her rights while still not involving the court system. Many divorcing couples find a courtroom experience to be stressful and needlessly adversarial, thus adding to the tension and potentially to the conflict of separating. In addition, in court a judge will ultimately decide contested issues, thus making it possible for one ex-spouse to feel that he or she was not treated fairly after the divorce is finalized.

By handling the negotiations in a series of respectful meetings out of court, each spouse can ultimately agree on a compromise. In some cases, negotiations can even be conducted over the phone or online. If negotiations do reach a halt, each party may bring in experts such as financial advisors, psychologists and appraisers to help resolve the situation. The goal is for all parties involved to work together and not against one another.

Another benefit to a collaborative divorce is that it has the potential to save money. A traditional contested marriage in court has the potential to be lengthy and require numerous experts. By avoiding court, a divorcing couple has the opportunity to not only shorten the process but to save money.

Collaborative divorce is not for everyone. It requires both spouses to be able to treat each other respectfully during the settlement talks. Both sides must also be willing to completely share all assets, income and debt information. In some cases, such as if there is a history of abuse during the marriage, collaborative law may not be the best option.

At any point the divorcing couple may choose to abandon the collaborative effort and decide to go to court. If no compromise can be reached, none of the negotiations made during the collaborative effort are binding.

Seek skilled professionals

Divorce is a stressful experience, and those seeking to lessen the adversarial nature of a traditional divorce should contact and experienced divorce lawyer who is familiar with collaborative law to discuss their options.