Collaborative divorce is a legal process that may help you compromise more quickly, and is designed to keep you out of court. However, the best divorce process for you depends on how you and your ex participate. If you’re a parent, it’s also important to reach an outcome that’s good for your child.
Why Some People Choose Collaborative Divorce
Collaborative divorce is less adversarial by design. It might be the best option for you if:
- Both of you are prepared to go through with a divorce.
- You haven’t spelled out a compromise yet, but you believe you can do so.
- You’re ready to cooperate to reach that goal.
Collaborative divorce is a process designed to keep you out of divorce trial. You may not even have to open a court case before starting the collaborative divorce process, and if you do have a case, you may be required to ask the court to pause it.
You and your spouse each hire a lawyer trained in this process who will advise you in private negotiations, finalize the details of your divorce and submit it to the court. They’re not allowed to go to trial with you. If you change your mind about participating in this process and seek a trial instead, you’ll need different lawyers to represent you in court.
This approach was first developed in Minnesota in 1990, and it’s still part of the alternative dispute resolution methods available in Minnesota. Today, half of U.S. states have enacted the Uniform Collaborative Law Act (UCLA). Even states that haven’t done so may recognize their own version of collaborative law.
If you seek collaborative divorce, find specialists who are the right fit for you. Any time you hire a lawyer, you want someone with the skills to handle the issues that matter to you and the ethics not to rack up unnecessary hours or delay the result.
When you embark on a collaborative process, you’re hiring a whole team of specialists, so you also want to pay attention to whether these professionals have experience working together.
Why Some People Divorce Through Courts
Not all divorcing couples are ready or able to collaborate. They may have a complicated or painful history, and compromise may not seem like the best route. They may also not be able to put in equal effort to make a collaborative divorce seem fair.
Judges consider your child’s wellbeing when they issue court orders for parenting. This can be helpful if there’s an ongoing situation that affects your child’s physical, emotional or financial safety. That’s one reason why some divorcing couples may prefer to let a judge give them a court order with instructions on how to move forward.
This may also be the necessary approach when one spouse:
- Is resisting the divorce itself
- Is trying to manipulate the other spouse
- Needs more extensive support to complete tasks related to the divorce
Put Your Child First
There’s no one divorce process that’s objectively correct for everyone. What processes might be possible for you? It depends on:
- Your personalities
- Your history with each other
- What local laws you must follow
- What legal help you can afford
As with any major life project, the effort you put in will help determine your results.
The divorce process itself is only a tool to get you where you need to be. The best legal process for you is the one that helps you toward safety, stability and security. If you’re a parent, whatever divorce process you choose or find yourself in, remember to stay committed to the best possible future for your child.
Sometimes you need to have an argument, but you don’t want the argument to go on forever. If last year was full of conflict, this year it’s time to reach decisions and move forward.