What is a Collaborative Divorce?
A guest post from the Cantor Law Group in Phoenix AZ.
What is a Collaborative Divorce?
The latest trend in dissolving marriages has taken the word “messy” out of the divorce process. Instead, collaborative divorce has inserted another term: “Joint cooperation.”
A collaborative divorce involves a husband and wife deciding to reach a settlement agreement before heading to court to finalize their divorce.
Collaborative divorce is practiced in Europe, Australia, the United States and Canada. The origins of the process in the U.S. are traced back to Minnesota Attorney Stuart Webb who, in the 1980s, began to view lawyers as “settlement” experts who could help couples before they entered the divorce court system.
Collaborative divorce is considered another form of alternative dispute resolution, similar to mediation which is used in the traditional divorce process. Unlike mediation, where a third-party, impartial mediator helps couples to resolve their differences, collaborative divorce involves attorneys for both the husband and wife working together to reach equitable agreements in a civil manner.
The husband, wife and their attorneys sign a “participation agreement” which states, among other things, that they will work together to resolve all outstanding issues in a non-adversarial way.
The attorneys meet separately with their clients, then schedule a meeting where the couple and their attorneys all meet together. If necessary, accountants, child specialists and other trained professionals are called in to assist couples.
The collaborative approach is usually chosen by couples who are parents. During the process, children are connected to a child specialist with whom they can ask questions and share their feelings about the divorce.
In the event that the couple cannot resolve their differences, the attorneys agree to withdraw from the case and will not represent the husband or wife in divorce court.
According to the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, a 2012 survey of 933 cases in the United States and Canada, showed 90 percent of the couples reached a settlement agreement in the process. In addition, 87 percent of the couples said they were satisfied with the outcome.
While results are favorable toward collaborative divorce, the process may not be financially feasible for couples earning low wages. The survey showed that the average total fees paid for the process was $24,185. Couples in a higher-income bracket would more than likely choose to pursue a collaborative divorce.
Collaborative divorce continues to gain momentum around the country. In 2009, the U.S. Uniform Law Commission adopted the Uniform Collaborative Law Act. The act was amended in 2010 and renamed, Uniform Collaborative Law Rules and Act. The measure allows states to enact collaborative divorce into law.
Sean Smallwood is an Orlando divorce attorney for the law firm Sean Smallwood, Orlando Divorce & Family Law P.A. where he represents clients in all areas of family law and divorce. 100% of the practice is devoted to family law. As an attorney in Orlando, he has helped many families with a wide variety of family law cases including Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, and many other issues.