Dos and Don’ts of a Collaborative Divorce

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First the Dos of a Collaborative Divorce and then the don’ts.

Do understand the meaning of collaborative divorce

In a collaborative divorce, the spouses and their lawyers agree that they will not go to court. Instead, they all meet to discuss and work through the divorce issues.  They may also ask a mental health professional and a financial professional to help with the emotional and financial facets of the divorce.

Do understand the process of a collaborative divorce

Each spouse is represented by an attorney.  Both parties, along with their attorneys, sign a collaborative agreement.  Financial and other information is shared so that spouses and lawyers can work together to negotiate and work out any issues that they would otherwise have to bring to court. This is what separates collaborative divorce from traditional divorce litigation.  There are no discovery or hearing motions or depositions during this process.  Instead, everyone meets in an informal setting and the discussions are kept confidential. The parties are encouraged, but not forced, to come to an agreement.  If the spouses can’t agree on all of the issues, their attorneys will withdraw and the parties can retain attorneys to represent them in further proceedings.

Do understand the benefits of collaborative law

Collaborative law allows the divorcing couples to do the following:

  • Create a financial plan that works best for both parties.
  • Work together to resolve issues, instead of going to court where they may involve the children.
  • Maintain confidentiality and privacy by not filing divorce papers in the court system to end up on public record.
  • Keep control of the cost and have control over all agreements.
  • Create an amicable co-parenting relationship.

Do know the difference between mediation and collaborative divorce

Mediation is different than a collaborative divorce.  During mediation, the couples meet with one mediator, who remains a neutral party and works to resolve disputes. The parties commonly do not hire attorneys, but may consult with one outside of the mediation process. The mediator does not give legal advice, nor will the mediator appear in court on behalf of either or both of the spouses. In a collaborative divorce, each couple is individually represented by their own Family Law attorney who provides them legal advice.  Spouses can feel secure that their communications with their attorney are confidential and that their attorney is protecting their best interests.

Do understand the costs

When it comes to divorce, cost is a very important and concerning factor. In a traditional divorce, lawyer’s fees can increase dramatically with each court appearance.  A spouse has no control over the time their attorney spends waiting in court to be heard.  Costs and fees can increase when attorneys write letters back and forth and during the discovery process, which can be extensive and may not be particularly needed by the clients. Collaborative divorce eliminates those costs because there is no court time and financial documents are exchanged voluntarily. As a result, parties generally spend about one-third of the amount of fees they would have spent in a traditional litigated divorce.

If you face a family law issue in the Albuquerque, New Mexico, area, contact a caring, experienced and certified family law lawyer at 505-247-3335 or toll free at 888-710-0130.

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