Collaborative Divorce and Law
Summary in Divorce

A collaborative divorce is less costly, litigation-free way of settling disputes in which two spouses agree in writing not to go to court. In collaborative actions, lawyers act as negotiators, not litigators. Collaborative law is not adversarial, and is closer to the tradition of the country lawyer as peacemaker instead of an urban warrior going for the kill.

With mediation and arbitration, collaborative law is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), which avoids the sound and fury of a divorce court battle. Like mediation and arbitration, the goal is to reach a settlement over disputed issues without litigation.

In a collaborative divorce, the parties share all pertinent information. Each spouse has his or her own attorney of course, but since both cooperate with each other neither attorney must do the extensive discovery that runs up legal bills and shrinks the marital estate.

Each spouse also agrees that if a settlement agreement cannot be reached, new counsel is retained to litigate. This stipulation serves to keep both spouses on target about a collaborative settlement because it means that divorce negotiations must start all over again.

In a collaborative divorce, the spouses and attorneys meet as many times as necessary. The more complex the case, the more times the spouses and attorneys meet. Most collaborative practice lawyers work with a team of professionals and experts who include counselors, accountants, financial planners, and appraisers.

Like other forms of ADR, collaborative divorce requires good faith by both spouses. When it works, the settlement agreement is almost always satisfactory and effective.

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#259: If you want to avoid court, work with your spouse to reach and agreement on all your issues. Most divorces do end in settlement, unfortunately sometimes, it takes the reality of a trial to make the spouses realize that the judge's ruling would be too much of a surprise to bare.
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