Undergoing divorce proceedings in a courtroom can be emotionally draining for yourself, your spouse and your family as a whole. Few divorces are easy. Often there are disagreements between spouses over finances, property, child accommodations and a multitude of other potential obstacles. However, many parties may find themselves able to agree on some issues.
If you and your spouse can agree to avoid litigation, collaborative law may be a better solution.
Collaborative law takes some of the drama out of divorce proceedings by removing both parties from the courtroom and placing them into informal negotiations. Through mediation with the right lawyers and experts, you can settle your divorce. By focusing on compromises over a winner-take-all mentality, collaborative law can be far more productive and cost-effective than a messy divorce addressed in court. The benefit to resolving a divorce in the collaborative process for those with children is immeasurable.
Collaborative Divorce uses specially trained lawyers along with divorce coaches, child specialists, and financial specialists to help parties reach an out-of-court agreement, with privacy and respect. The goal is to resolve problems jointly, review assets and debts in an open and transparent fashion, prevent an expensive and public court battle, and when children are involved make them the priority!
However, this method only works if both parties agree to stay out of court and negotiate. Without willing participation from both spouses, litigation may be the only option.
The ultimate goal of collaborative law is to find a “win-win” solution for all parties involved. This is drastically different from a courtroom setting, which has a “fight to win” mindset. Here are some benefits to collaborative law:
Acknowledgement of emotional factors: The legal system does not deal with emotional issues as they relate to property very effectively. Pets, antiques, furniture and other items with emotional value cannot be adequately replaced by assigning monetary values. Collaborative law brings these issues to the table, allowing both spouses and their lawyers to negotiate who gets what in a calm and open setting.
Problem-solving experts: In normal litigation proceedings, each party chooses experts to testify on their behalf, which can easily devolve into an expensive back-and-forth with no clear answers. On the other hand, with collaborative law, experts are neutral and work with both parties to reach a solution that satisfies everyone. Additionally, both spouses split the costs of experts rather than shelling out a fortune to hire their own experts to argue their case in court.
The first step is to hire an attorney trained and experienced in the peace-making process of collaborative divorce. While a zealous lawyer can be effective in a courtroom setting, you want an attorney trained in the peace-making processes of collaborative divorce to represent you in collaborative case.
Assuming your opposing spouse also wishes to utilize this process, both spouses sign a written pledge not to go to court, both agree to honestly AND fully exchange information. There are other aspects to the agreement, but the primary purpose is to agree to and then engage in safe and focused discussions that recognize the needs of the children and the interests of each party. Because both parties agree to not go to court, or threaten court, reaching an acceptable settlement is the only goal.
Collaborative law is not fool-proof, but it can be very effective. The process has the potential to be cheaper than litigation, the benefits to the children are immeasurable, and the process is generally a better option for spouses who, in the end, reach an agreement with respect.
To schedule a consultation to discuss divorce options, contact our experienced Vancouver family law attorneys at Spencer & Sundstrom. Attorney, Chris R. Sundstrom has been trained in the collaborative divorce process and has experience helping client’s negotiate this option. Regardless, he will thoroughly review your case and expectations. If litigation is the better option, he will provide competent counsel in this regard as well. We never make promises we can’t keep, but you can rely on us to pursue every option to provide sound legal representation to you and your family.