What Is Collaborative Law and Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce is an alternative dispute resolution process that allows you to end your marriage without litigation. A Cincinnati collaborative divorce attorney can help you through the process. Collaborative Law refers to the process of removing family disputes from the “winner/loser” setting of a courtroom into a “problem solving and reality testing” setting of a conference room table. Participants actively engage with counsel and other trained professionals to negotiate the settlement of their disputes.
As part of the collaborative law process, both parties retain separate collaboratively trained attorneys, who are engaged for the sole purpose of settling the dispute. No one in the signed collaborative case may go to court. If that is needed or requested, the collaborative law process terminates and both attorneys are disqualified from any further involvement in the case.
There are fundamental principles of the collaborative process:
Both parties and the Cincinnati collaborative divorce attorney they separately hire commit that they will not take the case to court. Neither party may seek or threaten court action to resolve disputes. If the collaborative process terminates because a party decides to go to court, the attorneys must withdraw from representation and the spouses hire new counsel for the litigation process. This clause ensures that the turbulent negotiations do not result in needless threats or rash decisions, but rather focus the parties to find a solution. This commitment ensures the focus is on problem-solving and reaching agreements.
It is generally accepted that the majority of all divorce cases are resolved without a trial. In the Court system, that resolution sometimes comes on the eve of a trial after great expense and emotional warfare. The damage is done and often can never be repaired. The Collaborative Process seeks resolution before the bridges are burned and shots are fired in the courtroom. Collaborative Law may not work in all cases as it requires two willing participants. At Goldberg Evans LLC, we will work with you in determining the best process for your family.
Both clients will share their personal, family, and financial goals and the professionals involved will work to generate options for resolution that can meet the interests of both parties. Each party agrees to act respectfully during the process. The parties are expected to avoid disparaging remarks from the other spouse.
The divorcing parties may also choose to consult with additional experts, such as a family relations specialist or financial neutral to facilitate the agreement. These professionals along with the attorneys and clients are the collaborative team.
Family relations specialists assist the parties and attorneys with the emotional turbulence of divorce as well as co-parenting and they assist in the development of parenting plans. Financial neutrals can be employed to distill financial data and present options for the division of assets/debts that create the least amount of cost to the family.
The foundation of the collaborative law process is to identify each spouse’s goals and interests for the resolution. Then options are generated and analyzed to determine which ones can meet the interests of both parties and resolve the dispute. It is important to recognize that a deal cannot be made if both spouses do not believe their interests have been understood and addressed. The resolutions of family disputes and divorce cases often mean that neither party is able to obtain everything they want, but are willing to compromise and accept an outcome that they can individually accept.
Family Relations Specialists
(FRS) are trained mental health professionals engaged in a neutral non-therapeutic role. They are the keeper of the process and manage the emotional undercurrent. Often this undercurrent can also involve lawyers. They provide guidance to the spouses and other professionals as they navigate the negotiation. The FRS will often meet with parents separately from full team meetings to discuss children-specific issues. In contested court cases, children become the unintended victims. They internalize the conflict and often blame themselves for the break up of their family. An FRS can assist parents in helping their children cope and communicate about their feelings and ensure the parents allow them a safe space.
The parties often agree to implement other outside experts, when needed. This can be for the purpose of appraising real estate or business interests, evaluating earning potential of a spouse, or evaluating a specific retirement plan. The spouses agree to the expert(s) and share the costs. In the litigious court process, often redundant appraisals are performed by one expert for each party. The end result is a duplication of services at greater cost and with increased distrust. This often results in an expensive battle of experts at trial where each expert testifies regarding their different valuations. In the collaborative process, the parties agree on an expert that is not associated with either party. With a trust relationship established, the parties agree on some division of cost and can agree to be bound by the appraised value.
There is honest and open communication between the attorneys and other professionals. It is required that parties commit to sharing all relevant information that is requested to ensure that each party makes informed decisions in the case. In Ohio, the courts may order the divorcing parties to seek mediation before litigating in court. In collaborative divorce, the divorcing parties, as well as the attorneys involved in the case, all agree of their own volition not to litigate. If a party feels they are not going to be able to reach an agreement, the collaborative divorce may end, likely requiring that the parties retain new counsel. Goldberg Evans can help you navigate the collaborative divorce process and work with you to achieve an amicable agreement between you and your spouse.
How does collaborative divorce work?
When two spouses decide to pursue a collaborative divorce, they both hire a Cincinnati collaborative practice attorney. Each party—including the attorneys—signs an agreement that states he or she will try to come to an agreement without having to take the case to court. This contract requires the attorneys to interact openly and honestly with each other and does not permit the use of adversarial tactics. After all, for a collaborative divorce to work, the divorcing spouses must be willing to participate and cooperate with each other in a respectful, collaborative manner.
After hiring counsel, each divorcing party will meet privately with their respective attorneys to discuss what they want from the divorce. The discussion may be centered around important issues such as the division of assets and debt as well as any issues concerning the well-being of children (i.e., custody, parenting time, support).
After meeting with their attorneys and any other professionals on the collaborative team, a collaborative meeting is scheduled where all participants will meet in person to discuss the issues that need to be resolved. Further meetings may be scheduled as needed to allow the parties to reach a full agreement.
Once both spouses have negotiated the terms of the divorce, the attorneys will draft a separation or settlement agreement for both parties to sign. A judge will typically sign off on any agreement the parties have reached assuming it is not egregious to one side.
If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the collaborative process will terminate and the parties may move toward a traditional litigation path. If a party is found to have not been truthful throughout the duration of the collaborative divorce process, they may proceed to the traditional divorce route. The collaborative contract does not permit your collaborative attorney to represent you in court, so a new attorney will need to hire for litigation. Goldberg Evans LLC can help those who need assistance with their collaborative divorce, and those seeking counsel after a collaborative divorce goes south.
How long will a collaborative divorce take?
Unique circumstances determine how long the collaborative divorce process takes. The entire process is based on a foundation that focuses on problem-solving, full disclosure, and open communication.
These elements are critical to ensuring all issues are discussed and resolved efficiently and effectively. Because settlement does not require going to court, the divorcing parties do not have to wait for multiple court appointments that are often necessary for a conventional divorce, which saves time. Therefore, a collaborative divorce can be streamlined more efficiently.
On average, a collaborative divorce takes approximately six months to complete. It usually takes about four to six settlement meetings for the divorcing parties to review and analyze all issues to reach a final agreement. It is important to have a Cincinnati collaborative divorce attorney to help you all the way through the process.
However, there are certain factors that may prolong the process:
- The meetings must be spaced out due to other commitments, such as work, travel, etc.
- An asset must be sold before other financial decisions can be made
- Important documents or information are not readily accessible
- The parties need time to work on their respective budgets
Is A Cincinnati Collaborative Divorce Right for You?
Whether a collaborative divorce is right for you and your spouse depends on both parties’ willingness to be transparent, and honest, work together, and commit to the process. The collaborative process ensures you avoid the lengthy and stressful litigation process. If you and your spouse are considering a collaborative divorce, trust the experienced team of Cincinnati collaborative divorce attorneys at Goldberg Evans.
Contact A Cincinnati Collaborative Divorce Attorney On Our Team
The lawyers at Goldberg Evans LLC have received specific advanced training to understand the unique challenges of divorce negotiations. The collaborative law model encourages spouses to bring in professionals with a range of expertise to help the parties understand and resolve their disputes. Every dispute is different, but often we see spouses deal with financial concerns, fear of the unknown, and worry about the impact of the transition on children. Our professional teams can include mental health providers, financial advisors, accountants, business experts, or retirement experts.
Divorce and custody negotiations are unique, in that the “other side” is a person with that you have shared an intimate relationship. This fact creates an emotional undercurrent that exists throughout the negotiation. If this is not recognized and managed, that undercurrent will often cause waves that will capsize the boat.
We are committed to bringing compassion back to the practice of family law. Contact a Cincinnati collaborative divorce attorney from our team to learn how we can help.