You’ve researched the divorce process and found information on collaborative divorce. Now you’re wondering whether it may be right for you and how to find the right attorney. For those who aren’t that familiar with the collaborative process, it is an alternative method of dispute resolution where both parties are represented by a specially trained attorney and work with a team of financial and mental health experts to come to a mutually agreeable settlement. The collaborative process has many advantages but to be successful it’s important to work with attorneys and other experts who have appropriate experience. Some questions to ask an attorney include:
- How will I benefit from collaborative divorce? An attorney should be able to explain the advantages of the team approach to facilitate discussions and find solutions. In addition, the collaborative process minimizes the emotional damage to the parties and their children from a prolonged court battle and helps them move forward to the next stage of their lives. The parties learn how to communicate more effectively, which is especially helpful if they have children they will be co-parenting after divorce.
- Will this be faster and less expensive than divorce litigation? There is no guarantee because every case is different. However, collaborative divorce is normally quicker and less costly because the parties are in control of the process and the outcome. They aren’t subject to court calendars and they decide how long they will continue to discuss issues. The team approach also encourages open communication and compromise to enable a faster resolution.
- What if we can’t come to an agreement? If you or your spouse decide you don’t want to continue with the collaborative process, you can still go to court. However, you do need to engage new attorneys.
- Do you recommend the financial and mental health experts? An attorney should know experts who are trained in the collaborative divorce process and who they have worked with and can recommend.
- What are your credentials and experience? The collaborative divorce attorney should have substantial experience in matrimonial and family law in general. In addition, the parties should look for an attorney who has handled a significant number of collaborative divorce matters. Collaborative attorneys should also have gone through initial and regular follow up training given by the International Association of Collaborative Professionals or its New York chapter. In addition, active participation in these and other collaborative professional organizations also helps demonstrates their commitment to the process.
The collaborative divorce process isn’t right for everyone, but it can benefit couples who are willing to communicate and discuss settlement. In addition, working with experts who are trained to help the parties come to an agreement can make a substantial difference in achieving a positive divorce experience.
If you have questions about the collaborative process, contact me for a consultation.