Divorce doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out battle with a winner and loser. Couples split up for any number of reasons, and every divorce doesn’t have to be a contentious fight. Divorce laws are designed to create an equitable outcome for all parties, and spouses who have maintained open communication have options to avoid some of the challenges of conventional divorce.
As you decide the best route for dissolving your marriage, consider collaborative divorce. Collaborative divorce can be more private and respectful than conventional, litigated divorce.
A study by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals found most cases resolved collaboratively were completed within eight months. Only three percent took more than two years and 86 percent of all cases ended with all issues in the case settled between the parties.
How does the process work?
Each spouse needs to work with their own legal representation. You will meet with your attorney individually to determine what your ideal outcome from the divorce includes. Collaborative divorces involve face-to-face meetings where the spouses and lawyers discuss each set of goals and work to resolve remaining differences.
Additionally, the collaborators may bring in neutral third-parties for more detailed advice. These include specialists in child custody, financial advisors and mental health professionals, according to the IACP.
What about cost?
Cost varies with every divorce. Court fees, legal fees, expert input and other factors contribute to cost differences. The cost will also vary by state. An uncontested divorce in New York can cost as little as $335 between filing and court fees. This is a baseline figure and doesn’t include the price of an attorney, but it is helpful to realize that divorce is not designed to be a financial burden.
What if we can’t resolve the divorce collaboratively?
Clearly, collaboration will not work in every divorce. However, your options are not limited if you choose to begin the divorce process collaboratively.
If a collaboration does not end with an agreement, the case can still move forward through adversarial divorce proceedings. Be aware that if collaboration does not work, you and your spouse will be required to find new representation than whoever worked with you in collaborative proceedings.