Divorce ends a marriage. Often, though – especially where there are children involved – it doesn’t end the relationship between the parties. The choices that are made about and during a divorce have a profound and lasting impact on family relationships.
Most people are familiar with litigated divorce, in which one party files for divorce and the matter is decided over the course of months and, potentially, many court hearings. The vast majority of cases settle at some point during the process. Those cases that don’t settle end in a divorce trial. For a long time, litigation was the only option for ending a marriage. In some cases, it is still the best option.
In recent decades, however, many forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) have emerged, including Collaborative Divorce. Collaborative Divorce recognizes that most divorces settle, and offers the parties the opportunity to have greater control and ownership of the outcome of their case.
In Collaborative Divorce, the parties work with attorneys who are specially trained in the Collaborative process, which differs from ordinary settlement negotiations. This process involves parties and attorneys committing to reaching settlement through negotiation, fully disclosing all relevant information, and agreeing not to threaten litigation.
Decisions are made through a series of meetings between the parties and their attorneys, with other professionals becoming involved as needed. As with any important project, meetings follow agendas and minutes are kept, so everyone has a consistent understanding of the work being done and the process is able to move forward.
Marriage is more than just a legal relationship, and divorce likewise involves other concerns, such as financial and emotional matters. Collaborative Divorce often employs divorce coaches to help parties sort through the emotional concerns of the divorce process, and a neutral financial professional can help them understand and review their financial options. Child specialists are available to work with the kids and identify their needs and concerns so that the parties can address them.
The parties will still need to appear in court, but this is a formality at the end of the process, so that the judge can give legal effect to the settlement agreement the parties have already created with their team of professionals.
Collaborative Divorce offers a number of advantages over litigated divorce. These include:
Collaborative Divorce is not for every couple, but it is a good option for many. If you are interested in learning more about whether Collaborative Divorce is right for you, schedule a free consultation with one of our Michigan divorce attorneys at (734) 254-1140 or fill out our online contact form.