What Is Collaborative Divorce?
A collaborative divorce occurs when you and your spouse agree on the terms of your divorce. Full collaboration doesn’t have to happen right away, and it may not be easy. You may go through several rounds of mediation, but you’ll avoid the expense, time drain, and emotional challenge of extended court proceedings if you can do a collaborative divorce.
The process of collaborative divorce
When a couple decides to divorce, they must determine how to split every aspect of their marriage: home, cars, bank accounts. They must also make decisions like where minor children will live and whether one spouse will receive child support or alimony.
Generally, the fewer issues you have to resolve, the easier it is to get divorced. That doesn’t mean that longer marriages can’t also see benefits from a collaborative divorce.
Like many things in life, divorce requires action. Even though you and your spouse are ending your time together, a collaborative divorce requires you both to participate honestly in the process. When you do, you can save lots of time and money.
So, how does it work? Aptly enough, it starts with collaboration.
If either spouse is unwilling to participate, collaborative divorce simply won’t work.
Getting started with collaborative divorce
If you and your spouse agree to try this process, choosing a lawyer or legal advocate can help you establish momentum. You’ll want someone experienced in the collaborative divorce process and alternative dispute resolution.
Mediation may play a key role in this process as you and your spouse work to resolve your differences, but it doesn’t have to be a part of this process. If you and your spouse can collaborate, either individually or through your legal representation, you may avoid mediation.
You may also avoid litigation – the most costly and time-consuming process related to divorce. With litigation, you lose significant control over what happens to your marital assets. The court steps in to divide your property for you. Most people don’t want this and therefore decide to collaborate with their ex.
Benefits of collaborative divorce
Collaborative divorce avoids court
One of the biggest benefits of collaborative divorce is avoiding court – the time, the expense, and the contentiousness. Divorce is often portrayed as two people yelling and screaming, but it doesn’t have to be that way. When you come together with a collaborative mindset, you’re more likely to have a fruitful process.
You still get legal help
Collaborative divorce doesn’t mean you must go it alone. Whether you hire an attorney or partner with Hello Divorce, you still get legal guidance. You also get someone to help you create and review your marital settlement agreement, laying out the specific terms of your divorce.
Kids can be shielded from the bitterness of divorce
While you and your spouse have differences, you can both agree that the kids come first and should be protected. Obviously, your children understand that something is happening, but when you work cooperatively with your spouse, it’s better for everyone.
Collaborative divorce makes your life easier
Ultimately, collaborative divorce makes your life easier and simpler. While it requires you to roll up your sleeves, negotiate, and resolve disputes, you can reach your goal of divorce much sooner and with less cost and headache.
Breakdown of collaborative divorce benefits
- Saves money
- Saves time
- Saves headache
- Shields kids from the worst
- Keeps control of your divorce in your hands
- Allows you to create a better environment for your whole family
Roadblocks to collaborative divorce
Collaborative divorce isn’t all rosy. You’ll have to make compromises. If you don’t compromise, collaborative divorce won’t work. That doesn’t mean you have to give in to everything your spouse wants – they have to compromise, too – but you’ll need to make sacrifices.
Anger and other tough emotions
One of the biggest problems couples face in collaborative divorce is dealing with their anger. Even if you agree the marriage is over, you may harbor anger or feelings of resentment toward your spouse. These feelings can sprout into the desire for revenge, which only inhibits the collaboration process.
If your spouse has a history of domestic violence or abuse, collaborative divorce may not be the best option for your divorce.
Dishonesty is another major hurdle for some couples, especially if one spouse lied or cheated during the marriage. To be effective, you’ll need to put bad feelings behind you and collaborate honestly.
Tips for successful collaborative divorce
Both spouses put in the effort
That may mean hiring lawyers or partnering with Hello Divorce to obtain legal support and guidance.
Look for a skilled mediator
Make sure neither of you have a prior relationship with a mediator, as that could look like you’re trying to get an upper hand. Mediators are skilled at helping couples willing to put in the work to reach suitable and reasonable outcomes. Mediators will also help you stay on topic, avoiding emotionally charged discussions.
Adopt the right mindset
We’ve beaten this point, but it bears repeating: You must come to the table willing to discuss your disputes with honesty and transparency. If you’re unwilling to put in the time and work, your divorce will take longer, cost more, and drain you emotionally.
Block quote: Here’s one thing many divorcing couples don’t realize: Your lawyer will never tell you what to do. They will advise, they will consent, and they will offer pros and cons. But every decision is ultimately up to you and your spouse. That’s why collaborative divorce takes work.
Interested in a collaborative divorce? Come prepared and ready to work. For more negotiation tips, check out these recommended readings: