Collaborative divorce can provide a way for couples to reach agreements on property division, child custody, support and other matters without the time, cost and stress of a litigated divorce. Unlike a mediated divorce, which some couples choose for these reasons, both spouses’ attorneys are there to provide guidance throughout the negotiations, which take place outside the courtroom (often in a conference room or office).
You also have the option to bring in other professionals, such as financial advisors, real estate agents, mental health professionals and others who can advise you as you craft your agreements. Typically, couples split the costs of a collaborative divorce.
Questions to ask yourself before engaging in a collaborative divorce
Not all couples can make collaborative divorce work. That’s why if you’re considering it, it’s necessary that you take a serious, honest look at your current relationship with your soon-to-be-ex, and then talk with them so that you can decide whether the two of you can make collaborative divorce work.
Each of you should ask yourselves (and honestly answer) some questions like these:
- Can you put your negative feelings about your spouse aside to work with them throughout the process? If the two of you are barely speaking or you’ve lost all trust in your spouse, collaborative divorce won’t work.
- Can you hold your own in negotiating agreements with your spouse? If one of you is easily intimidated by the other, this isn’t the best type of divorce for you. Don’t rely on your attorney to be the “bad guy” who makes demands for you. That’s not what collaborative divorce is.
- Are you willing to compromise on things that aren’t important to you to reach agreements on larger issues? This isn’t a “win-at-all-costs” process.
- Are you both committed to having a strong co-parenting relationship during and after the divorce so that your children can continue to thrive?
When couples can work out their own divorce terms rather than having to rely on a judge to make decisions, they’re more likely to be satisfied with them and to follow them. This can help both spouses move forward into their new lives more comfortably.