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Collaborative divorce can be a good alternative to the traditional court process for many couples, but there is some confusion about collaboration, mediation, and other forms of conflict resolution, therefore it is useful to explain the differences before discussing in detail if collaborative divorce is right for you

Collaborative Divorce vs Mediation

Collaborative divorce involves both parties and their lawyers working from the start in a collaborative process. This means they agree to work to a solution without going to court. Four-way meetings can be held, where both parties have their lawyer present. The purpose is to reach an agreement between the parties and to negotiate this agreement in court, this should avoid the need for a trial in court.

Mediation involves a trained mediator sitting down with both people to see where there is a connection. They can help guide the estranged couple through difficult areas of negotiation in an effort to reach an acceptable compromise. Any agreement will still need to be formalized by court order. If the agreement is not concluded in mediation or if the written agreement is not acceptable for both parties and their legal advisors’ court time may ultimately be necessary. In most cases, individuals will go to mediation after consulting a family lawyer about their case, and/or they will need their lawyer to write a legally binding agreement after mediation. 

In the traditional procedure, every negotiation is usually done in writing, rather than face to face, and there is no commitment to reach an agreement that avoids asking for a Judge’s decisionA collaborative divorce process can be more successful in the long term than using the traditional court-based approach, as the parties are more likely to support their decisions through negotiation rather than having the court decide for them. 

It can also be cheaper because you don’t have to go to court. However, legal representation is essential.  

Collaborative law has proven to be useful in situations where there are family-run businesses. There is a clear benefit to all business continuity when the details of how assets will be divided and how operations will continue are defined.

Collaborative Divorce

Is a Collaborative Divorce Process Right For Me?

Here are nine things you should know about collaborative family law before you decide which way to go.

  1. Collaborative law is another form of dispute resolution for divorcing couples who want strong legal support but want to avoid going to court. They agree in advance not to take matters to court and they sign an agreement to that effect.
  2. Collaborative law differs from mediation because a mediator does not provide advice or represent the client, and clients must seek advice from their lawyers during the process.
  3. Each party appoints their own attorney, but instead of communicating by mail or phone, you will meet with your attorney to work face-to-face, known as “4-way meetings”.
  4. Unlike traditional divorce, collaborative law gives the client the option of retaining a team of divorce professionals, for example, your divorce lawyer (which is important in this process); a financial advisor will advise you on the financial aspects of any contract or a family adviser can support you and your children through the emotional situation that sometimes exists.
  5. The process is not driven by a court-approved timeline, so to a large extent, the process can be built around the client’s timeline and priorities. 
  6. This process can be more effective in the long term than using the traditional court system because the parties are more likely to follow the resolutions they reach through negotiations rather than having ones determined by the court.
  7. Once the agreement is made, lawyers can draft a document that can be submitted to the court for approval. You and your ex-partner will not need to appear in court during this process.
  8. The collaborative process can be less expensive than traditional cases that proceed to a final hearing. 
  9. In addition to reducing legal costs, it can also reduce the heartbreak and conflict that sometimes comes with marriage breakdown. Often, it’s not the divorce itself that hurts families the most, but the way people get divorced.

Collaborative divorce is not for everyone, but if you travel this path, making sure you have an excellent collaborative lawyer is the best way to get a positive result for you. Feel free to contact us to learn more.