Written by Craig Cherney

What is a Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce is an out of court legal process enabling couples to work together to achieve a settlement that will satisfy both parties and protect children.

Deciding to get a divorce is not easy. When there are children involved, getting a divorce can become more difficult and stressful. Even though you and your spouse might agree on most things, you may still disagree on a few. And if you’re fortunate, it might seem like you agree on everything. But what happens when you get stuck and feel like you need to battle it out? It’s actually possible to avoid the courtroom and end your marriage with a collaborative divorce.

The focus of collaborative divorce is to remove your dispute from a typical “fight it out in court” scenario. Instead, you can problem solve the issues that you cannot agree upon. It’s common practice in some courts to require out of court efforts at resolution before moving to litigation.

Most divorces don’t end amicably. The key is being open to out of court resolution rather than fighting in court. With a collaborative divorce, both participants have expert guidance to resolve their differences. You don’t have to be collaborative for collaborative process to work. You do need to trust your collaboratively-trained lawyer.

What Is Collaborative Law?

Collaborative Law Definition: Collaborative law, sometimes known as collaborative practice, divorce or family law, is an out of court process, like meditation, where each person has a lawyer to help them reach a resolution. In collaborative process, you can choose financial and psychology professionals. Sometimes, other professionals will assist to help reach a settlement. The settlement should at least satisfy both sides and protect children while avoiding the threat of litigation. The process enables a fair settlement. The voluntary process is started when each party signs a contract (a “participation agreement”) committing to the process. Once signed, the participation agreement prevents the retained lawyers from taking one-sided positions in court.

Collaborative Divorce Benefits

Choosing a collaborative divorce instead of court litigation benefits you with:

  • A shorter timeline for your case, usually around 30-70% less than court could take
  • An informal environment tailored to your needs, schedule and timeline for your life
  • Typically saves time and money for you and your spouse
  • You decide jointly how to resolve disputes, rather than a judge
  • You and your spouse create a solution that will work for both of you; e.g. custody arrangements, child support
  • Maintain stability for your children through a stressful time.

The Collaborative Divorce Process

Selecting Attorneys

If you and your spouse decide to get a collaborative divorce, the steps are straightforward. You would each hire your own attorney. When choosing an attorney, you’ll want to hire one who has experience with collaborative divorce. Avoid hiring an attorney who suggests they can represent you in court if collaborative process fails.

After choosing attorneys, you and your spouse will each meet with your respective attorneys alone. This is when you should confirm that you will use collaborative process. While you may think you know your desired outcome, you’ll learn a lot in collaborative process that could change your mind.

Collaborative Meetings

Once you know you’ll use collaborative process, both sides and their lawyers will attend a meeting. The collaborative participation agreement will be signed at this meeting. You’ll also schedule several other meetings, through and including the date you finalize your agreements. Neutral experts, such as accountants or child specialists may be called upon to assist with settling your case. You will identify those experts at your collaborative law meeting. They too will sign the collaborative participation agreement. You’ll leave the first meeting knowing the likely date of your divorce.

Finalizing a Collaborative Divorce

You, your spouse and both attorneys will sign a participation agreement. This agreement states that both attorneys will withdraw from your case if it ends up in court. Using collaborative process means that the only contact you’ll have with the Court is the submission of your agreements for approval. The collaborative process means that nearly always, your divorce will be an uncontested and straightforward procedure.

How Much Does Collaborative Divorce Cost?

On average, collaborative divorce costs no more than one quarter to one-half the cost of litigation. It also takes about one quarter of the time of litigation. Best Legal Choices professionals have handled many collaborative law cases for less than $10,000 in legal fees per party. This is a big difference from the $20,000-50,000 cost of litigation.

Collaborative Divorce vs. Traditional Divorce

Read more about the differences between a collaborative divorce vs. traditional divorce below.

Traditional Divorce. Traditional divorce is a legal process where one party brings a lawsuit against the other. The responding party is served with process, and the entire case is decided on the court’s timeline. The process is formal and based on rules, not on your specific needs. Traditional divorce can be lengthy and distressing. High conflict divorce can create more anxiety, especially when parents need to communicate about their children’s futures.

Collaborative Divorce. Collaborative divorce is a customized path to divorce. Collaborative divorce happens out of court in a private conference room. It results in a cooperatively crafted agreement between each party to end the marriage. It is typically a less stressful and more affordable path divorce versus a traditional divorce. Collaboration usually results in more reliable results. There is no winner or loser.

Collaborative Divorce Advantages

Collaborative divorce advantages include:

  • Much more tailored, sophisticated process than traditional divorce;
  • Costs considerably less than traditional divorce;
  • Higher level of privacy of your personal and financial matters;
  • More creative freedom than traditional divorce litigation;
  • Flexible timing, since you set the schedule and not the court;
  • Focus on legal and emotional needs, whereas litigated divorces are legally focused;
  • Far less indirect damage to the children and the future co-parenting partnership;
  • Collaboration naturally reduces post-divorce litigation.

Collaborative Divorce Disadvantages

Even though collaborative divorce has its advantages, keep in mind there are always limitations:

  • You’ll need to agree with the other side that you will use collaborative process;
  • Be prepared to compromise with the advice of your lawyer, rather than just win or lose;
  • There are legal fees, but they are manageable on most people’s timelines;
  • Be committed to reaching a resolution, or you could have to start over with a new lawyer.

Learn more about collaborative divorce disadvantages

However, even with all these disadvantages, “When you want to be fair and to end your marriage with respect, this provides perhaps the best way to do so. A collaborative divorce can help you move forward on a good note and work out your differences together. Even though the marriage did not work, you don’t have to fight at the end.

Collaborative Divorce In Arizona

Going through a divorce is never easy. Usually, divorces involve a plethora of legal actions and a lot of attorney involvement, not to mention the costs that come with divorces. Luckily, there is a new divorce rule in Arizona (Rule 67.1) to help parties settle their marital disputes out of court.

While a few divorces come with some or no disputes, other couples find themselves overpowered by litigation and fees. That is to say, a couple wanting a divorce needs to come to agreements outside of the courtroom, but usually, have different views on different issues involving custody and financial matters. This is where collaborative divorce comes in.

On average, collaborative divorces in Phoenix & Scottsdale can be finished two to three times faster than traditional litigation in a courthouse and can cost from 50% to 75% less than conventionally litigated divorces in court. This means you can be divorced in as little as 60 to 90 days, and you each will save thousands of litigation dollars.

Collaborative divorce diminishes disagreements for couples by problem-solving instead of trying to “win” in court. That is to say, couples mediate and mutually manage to come to an agreement with the help of collaboratively trained professionals. For this to work, each party needs to choose to both agree in diverting the case to a collaborative process. Collaborative divorce enables couples to save time/money and come to a solution that works for both parties. Need a collaborative divorce lawyer in Phoenix or Scottsdale? Look no further than Best Legal Services.

Learn more about Collaborative Divorce In Arizona

Collaborative Divorce Lawyer Consultations in Arizona

Best Legal Services should be your first choice for when you need the best collaborative divorce lawyers in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Chandler, Glendale, Arizona. Our experienced family law attorneys will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome. You can trust us to represent you fully so that you can get on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation!

While this process is not for everyone, it can save you money, stress, and hassle. Speak with an attorney to find out if a collaborative divorce is a better option for your family. BestLegalChoices.com is ready to assist you in finding the right collaborative divorce professionals for you.

We can protect and advise you regarding: Divorce and property division, child support, child custody, child visitation, legal guardianship, marital home and real estate matters, businesses, practices, retirement savings, allocation and valuation of investments, pensions, valuables, personal possessions, vehicles, alimony and spousal maintenance, closely held businesses, and debt division. To find out how our collaborative divorce attorneys can help your matter, schedule your initial case evaluation today.

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