Divorce is often contentious, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If the spouses can remain civil, they can pursue a collaborative divorce, a form of alternative dispute resolution that has distinct benefits over going to court. The essence of a collaborative divorce is that the spouses and their attorneys all sign a contract specifying that they will use their best efforts to settle all issues without resorting to litigation or litigation strategies.

The process of a collaborative divorce starts with each spouse choosing an attorney that is trained in and dedicated to the collaborative process. Once retained, the attorneys will meet with their clients individually to go over the issues that are likely to arise in the divorce and find out how their client would like to see those issues resolved. The attorneys will also find out what their clients’ priorities are and whether there are issues on which they are willing to make concessions.

Usually, the next step in the process is for both attorneys and both spouses to meet to negotiate the terms of the divorce. The spouses usually agree to engage other professionals — such as a financial analyst, divorce coach and/or child specialist — to help resolve financial and parenting issues.

Some of the advantages of a collaborative divorce are:

The divorce is completed more quickly

Once you’ve decided to divorce your spouse, you’re in a state of limbo until the divorce is finalized. When divorcing couples go to court over contested issues, things can get very delayed. Courts are often overwhelmed with the number of cases they have to handle and couples may have to wait months just to have the opportunity to go before the court and argue their case. With collaborative divorce, you are never at the mercy of the court system and its backlog of cases.

The impact of the divorce process on your children is minimized

The whole process of collaborative divorce is designed to be less stressful on the entire family. Often, a child specialist is utilized. A child specialist is educated and trained to guide the spouses toward outcomes that are likely to have a positive impact on the children’s short and long-term mental health. Having a child specialist present when negotiations are going on means that the best interests of the children will remain front and center in the parties’ minds without the children having to be involved in any way.

There is one potential downside to a collaborative divorce, however. In the contract that both parties and their attorneys sign, each attorney agrees not to represent his or her client in any contested court proceeding against the other spouse, so if the collaborative process fails and the matter must go to court, each spouse will have to find a new attorney to litigate the divorce.

Strategic Law Command, located in Roseville, provides collaborative divorce services to residents of the Greater Sacramento area. Call 916-787-1234 or contact us online to schedule a consultation at our Roseville office.