When deliberating on divorce process options, one of the most important things to consider is how your attorneys will approach reaching your settlement. In a traditional litigated divorce, the attorneys must support only their clients’ positions, not considering whether the overall outcome will be best for the whole family.
Collaborative law is fundamentally different in a few ways. Its structured interest-based approach avoids many misunderstandings and maximizes efficient and direct communications. Collaborative lawyers have special training and skills to help clients de-escalate conflict through creative problem solving. That frequently means helping clients to look at the bigger picture, rather than focusing only on the bottom line.
In reference to divorce process options, “collaborative” doesn’t necessarily describe the spouses’ role so much as the way the professionals work together. Attorneys working collaboratively doesn’t mean that their individual clients don’t receive strong advocacy. Rather, it means that advocacy for one spouse won’t eclipse all other considerations, such as keeping costs down, preserving long-term family relationships, and the best interests and well-being of all family members.
Collaborative divorce process options involve a series of meetings with both spouses and both attorneys, along with a neutral financial specialist and divorce coach, in which all relevant issues are discussed face to face. This offers significant cost and time savings over the traditional back and forth where lawyers trade offers and counter-offers, and much can get lost in translation.
Rather than each attorney completing the due diligence of reviewing all financial documents (tax returns, account statements, pension plans, etc.), in a collaborative divorce the attorneys delegate those tasks to a neutral financial analyst. This way the clients only pay one professional with a lower hourly rate rather than two attorneys for the creation of the necessary financial reports.
In the traditional litigation divorce process, clients often spend a great deal of time and money preparing for a trial that will likely never happen, because the attorneys typically settle cases late in the process before trial. Often there are frequent fights over pleadings, depositions, or battles to obtain documents. In a collaborative divorce, however, all parties are entirely focused on reaching a settlement.
There is often a great deal of distrust between spouses looking at divorce process options. They generally want a process that requires openness and transparency. Collaborative divorce demands full transparency. Clients must fully disclose all information about their finances and exchange all financial records.
Collaborative attorneys also commit to transparency and fairness. With their clients’ consent, attorneys will not seek out errors on the part of opposing counsel to take advantage of. Instead, any errors will be brought to the attention of all participants so an agreement is not reached by way of luck and mistakes. This is in line with the goal of reaching a durable agreement that reflects the needs of both parties.