Collaborative divorce and mediation are becoming popular options to the traditional divorce process because they offer couples a kinder and less stressful alternative to battling it out in court. Is a collaborative divorce right for you? Here are some signs that you might be a good candidate:
You and your spouse would like to remain on fairly good terms. Maybe you’ve got kids. Maybe you were best friends long before the romance took hold. Whatever the reason, many couples really want to stay close to their ex, even though the marriage may not have worked out. Using a collaborative divorce, you can eliminate some of the hostility that commonly arises in a traditional divorce proceeding.
You want to save money. While uncontested divorces can be relatively cheap, a full-blown divorce trial is quite another story. Proving fault requires both attorney time as well as courtroom time and perhaps even the expense of a private investigator. If you’re arguing over property distribution, alimony or child custody, you can add even more courtroom time and yes, more attorneys’ fees as well. A collaborative divorce eliminates most of the dirt digging and investigation, drastically reduces your cost in the process.
You’re not looking for revenge. Some couples are literally looking to hurt each other in a divorce. Fortunately, others just want to end the marriage without any real need for vindication. If this sounds like you and your spouse, a collaborative divorce might just work.
You and your spouse are being relatively honest with each other. One of the biggest perks of collaborative divorce is that you bypass the discovery process and just “agree” to put everything on the table. That means that instead of waiting for the court to issue a subpoena for your separate savings account statements or waiting for a formal written request by your spouse’s attorney (with the opportunity to object to the request on some legally-defensible technicality), you offer it up on your own. In order for this process to work, both parties must agree to a full financial disclosure and there are no exceptions. In fact, even the attorneys must agree that they will withdraw if it becomes apparent that their client is not keeping his or her promise to be forthcoming.
You and your spouse would prefer to handle things yourselves. In a collaborative divorce, you do not ask a judge to decide who should get what or who’s at fault for the relationship ending. Instead, you and your spouse agree to meet with your attorneys and “collaborate” as to how best to end the marriage. Fault isn’t really an issue and property division, alimony, child custody and other issues are settled by you, not a judge. If successful, you and your spouse get to decide how to divvy things up instead of leaving it up to a judge who may or may not come up with an agreeable solution.
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