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How Does The Collaborative Divorce Process Work?

Traditional divorce litigation costs time, money and emotional heartache. The divorcing parties see the process as a battle. A collaborative divorce process takes a much different approach. It helps the parties end one relationship and begin a new one - especially if there are children present. Parents will be linked for life through important milestones in their children's lives. They must maintain an amicable relationship if only for their children's sake.

If a collaborative divorce goes smoothly, the couple and their children will be spared the emotional, financial and psychological drain of litigation. They will be in a much better position to move on with their lives.

The Collaborative Divorce Team And Its Members' Roles

When they enter a collaborative divorce process, the two parties agree to maintain a tone of respect towards each other. They want to work together, and with the support of trained professional consultants, to resolve their issues and plan for their children's future. The team that supports them in this process can include a lawyer for each spouse. However, if the parties don't reach agreement through the collaborative process, they will have to engage other lawyers to represent them in any litigation.

Some of the most important members of a collaborative divorce team are financial professionals, therapists and collaborative family lawyers. Together, they support the parties as they strive to reach agreement. Generally, these people make up the collaborative divorce team:

The financial professional. Both parties agree to disclose their financial information to a neutral financial professional. As a neutral party, this person is not an advocate for either side. He or she helps the spouses create different economic scenarios to consider for their future. This makes it easier for both spouses to trust the professional and reach agreement. If all goes well, the spouses and the financial professional develop a way to convert what was a single household into two viable economic households. This allows the children to be successful in either parent's home, as their parents are dividing their economic resources equitably.

The family therapist. These professionals help spouses and children cope with the psychological effects of the divorce. It is often emotionally challenging to divide a single-family home into two separate households. The therapist usually meets with each child and spouse separately, then aids the parties in developing a co-parenting plan intended to work for everyone. This especially benefits the children, who usually do not want to be placed in the position of choosing between their parents; children generally want to keep strong and loving relationships with both.

The therapist works with the spouses to improve how they communicate with each other, especially if their relationship is tense or frayed, for the sake of their children now and in the future.

The lawyer. Each spouse's lawyer is specially trained in collaborative family law. They provide advice and coaching services to their client. They listen to the client's goals and teach the client about the matters they must deal with during the collaborative divorce process. One of the spouses' lawyers drafts an agreement if the collaborative divorce process is successfully completed; the other spouse's lawyer reviews it before the spouses sign it.

The ultimate goal of the team is to help spouses and children end their original relationship and start a new one with as little pain as possible.

Benefits Of Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce tries to minimize emotional pain, but it cannot remove it completely. The team of professionals provides support throughout the process by helping all concerned deal with any grief and guilt they feel.

There are also financial benefits. A litigation-driven divorce is costly. Most of these costs come from letters between lawyers, court appearances and filing fees. Collaborative divorce don't require these processes as the parties don't go to court. This often saves both spouses a considerable amount of money.

Collaborative divorce helps spouses willing to work together to close off one phase of their lives as painlessly as possible and start a new chapter of their lives. You should consult an experienced collaborative family lawyer if you are considering divorce and think you and your spouse would be able to use the collaborative divorce approach.

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