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Understanding collaborative divorce

Divorce brings up a lot of bad connotations: anger, division, stress, a damaging court battle that drags on for years - not to mention absurd amounts of money wasted on lawyers and legal fees.

For many couples, though, it doesn't have to be like that.

Collaborative law offers an alternative to the traditional, adversarial divorce process. Why waste time, energy and money fighting one another when you can instead work toward a win-win resolution that benefits you both?

What makes the collaborative divorce process different?

The process differs from litigation in many ways. For one, instead of going before a judge for contested hearings - a prospect many people find intimidating - you'll be meeting in private with a team of professionals. Your team will include attorneys trained in collaborative law, and you may also choose to draw on the expertise of:

  • -An accountant or financial adviser to work through property issues
  • -A mental health adviser to weigh in on child custody matters
  • -A mediator to help facilitate respectful and open communication

Another big difference: the collaborative divorce process is confidential. You won't have wade through highly personal and sensitive issues in open court.

Why it can be a much better alternative

The goal of collaborative divorce is to put the power back in your hands - on your own terms and time frame. Rather than letting a judge decide important matters that will affect your life for a long time to come, you and your spouse have the ability to reach decisions that will work for you both. There's greater flexibility to develop a customized resolution.

The collaborative approach also tends to be far more cost-effective and efficient than contested litigation.

When collaborative divorce isn't the answer

Collaborative divorce isn't for everyone. It may not be appropriate in situations involving domestic violence or substance abuse, for example. And while the process does have high success rates, there are no guarantees. Couples who still cannot reach an agreement may have to enlist new attorneys and go to court.

Nonetheless, it's always wise to consider all your options - including collaborative divorce.

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