“Peaceful” and “divorce” are not two words typically found together. Yet collaborative divorce, a method of divorcing in which both parties sign a contract to stay out of court, can provide an avenue of options for spouses seeking to tamp down the angst and anger of separation.
Collaborative divorce incorporates specially-trained attorneys representing each party’s interests, and neutral professional advisors in areas such as financial planning and mental health. The axiom of the carrot and the stick applies here. The carrot is that both parties make their own informed, private decisions and save money by avoiding litigation. The stick is that if the process doesn’t work, both parties have to start all over with new attorneys and risk losing the power of choice to a court order.
Is Collaborative Law Right Divorce Method for You and Your Spouse?
Typically, complex or large estates, debt to be divided, or complicated child custody issues are the best indicators that a collaborative divorce is the best choice for you. If there are no feelings of being verbally or emotionally controlled by either party, it is usually more productive to sit at the same table and work things out together.
Does Collaborative Law Put Children First?
When children are involved, collaborative divorce prioritizes the children’s interests much more effectively than traditional court-based litigation. It is also a private process in which the court only logs the end result of custody discussions, should the parties desire it. Collaborative divorce is particularly helpful when both parties understand and are committed to co-parenting peacefully for their children’s sake after the divorce. It can also be a cost-savings method to calculate and agree upon fair child support, spousal support, and alimony.
How Do Collaborative Law and Traditional Court Litigation Differ?
Divorcing couples rarely have the benefit of understanding in advance how the law looks at marital property, alimony, or child support issues. It is not unusual for a client to begin with unreasonable expectations, only to be disappointed when litigation does not give them their emotional “day in court.” Collaborative divorce trades that “day in court” for real power kept in the hands of the two parties themselves. It equalizes how and when they receive important legal or other professional information, as they must sit at the same table while attorneys, financial neutrals, and mental health professionals discuss their unique situation.
Collaborative divorce helps the attorneys, too, as they sign a contract to work cooperatively toward a fair, legal solution and have greater opportunity to discuss options openly at the negotiating table. Attorneys typically can craft more versatile agreements in the collaborative divorce process than courts can.
It is human nature to move toward the least emotionally painful options in life. Because collaborative divorce is relatively new – it was started less than 50 years ago to make divorce more humane and process-driven – divorcing partners may miss or overlook this empowering option. Any good divorce attorney will advise you that they cannot guarantee the outcome of litigation. But every trained collaborative attorney CAN guarantee that human dignity and respect are the two pillars upon which the collaborative process stands.
About Elissa C. Goldberg, Esquire
Elissa C. Goldberg concentrates her legal practice in the area of family law, mediation, and collaborative law. She has handled cases involving equitable distribution (property division), custody, child support, spousal support/alimony pendente lite, and alimony in Bucks, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. Learn more about Elissa C. Goldberg, Esquire. You may reach her at 215-345-5259 or ECGoldberg@ecgoldberglaw.com.