What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce is a new approach to the divorce process that has been slowly gaining traction over the last several years. Traditional divorce litigation is an adversarial process that often just builds resentment and creates emotional damage between the parties. The goal of a collaborative divorce is to end the marriage in a way that is acceptable to everyone. Sacrifices and difficult decisions must still be made, however, the spouses are often able to maintain a healthy relationship when the process is over.

  1. Both parties sign an agreement that they will attempt to resolve the divorce outside of the court system. If the collaboration fails, all attorneys and other professionals must withdraw from the case and cannot represent the clients in the future.
  2. Each party has their own attorney who is trained in the practice of collaborative divorce.
  3. A neutral divorce coach assists the parties with the children and other emotional issues that can arise relating to divorce.
  4. A financial specialist will review the parties finances and come up with a financial plan that allows both spouses to feel secure.
  5. Either party can opt-out and end the collaborative process at any time and pursue the matter in court.

What does the Divorce Coach Actually Do?

The divorce coach is one of the most, if not the most, important part of the collaborative divorce process. Divorce is difficult for everyone, period. Emotional issues arise, feelings are hurt, and lives are turned upside down. The divorce coach is a neutral mental health professional who helps both spouses and the children navigate the divorce.

One of the biggest advantages to having a divorce coach is communication. In a traditional divorce both sides are represented by attorneys who are staunch advocates for their clients. This often results in unproductive and heated exchanges. The divorce coach facilitates calm and cooperative communication between the spouses. Because the divorce coach is neutral, he or she can often see and explain both sides of an argument.

Why do we Need a Financial Specialist?

The financial specialist has two main goals. The first goal is to create an accurate financial picture of the couple's assets, liabilities, and income. Second, the financial specialist will create a budget and forward-looking financial plan for each party. Financial security is often one of the most difficult, scary, and contested issues in a divorce. The financial specialist will attempt to create a solution that everyone can live with.

How Expensive is a Collaborative Divorce?

A collaborative divorce can be either more or less expensive than a litigated divorce. To learn about how much a litigated divorce cost review this article on my website. A fully contested divorce that is decided at a final hearing can cost each side in excess of $15,000 to $30,000 dollars. However, the typical divorce case will settle along the way, at a significantly lower price.

A collaborative divorce involves a total of four professionals. Two attorneys, one mental health, and a financial specialist. The hourly rate of the mental health professional and the financial specialist are traditionally lower than the hourly fee of the attorneys. Some of the work, like preparing a parenting plan and financial discovery, are done by these other professionals. In traditional litigation, both attorneys do this work on their own. In collaborative divorce, this work is only done once and at a reduced rate. Therefore, while not cheap, a collaborative divorce can result in significant cost savings.

Is a Collaborative Divorce Right for Me?

Collaborative divorce is a much better solution than a litigated divorce for the majority of clients. However, here are some factors to consider when deciding if collaborative divorce is right for you.

Collaborative is possible
You and your spouse are reasonable and willing to compromise on some divorce issues.
Collaborative is possible
You and your spouse consider the emotional impact of divorce to be as important as the financial impact.
Collaborative is possible
You and your spouse understand that being successful future co-parents is extremely important.
Litigation may be best
There is a history of domestic violence or physical and emotional abuse.
Litigation may be best
You or your spouse have certain requirements or positions that are "non-negotiable."
Litigation may be best
You or your spouse are unwilling to listen to and take the advice of the neutral financial specialist and divorce coach.

Contact Our Office

Collaborative Divorce Lawyers

Tara C. Schoff

Ian R. Reardon

Call Schoff & Reardon, PLLC

(603) 570-4825

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