When you think of divorce, you probably think of court battles. War of the Roses or Kramer vs. Kramer may come to mind. Just the thought of your entire life being scrutinized and laid bare in a public courtroom is probably enough to send shivers down your spine.
But you may have heard of an alternative: “Collaborative Divorce.” What exactly is it, and can divorce even be “Collaborative?”
Collaborative Divorce: A Simple Idea
Collaborative Divorce starts with a simple idea: your family doesn’t belong in court. You are likely not looking to make an enemy out of your spouse; you probably just want to move on with your life without harming your children (if any).
And so in Collaborative Divorce, you and your spouse have your own separate, independent attorneys to counsel each of you. But the attorneys are there solely for the purpose of helping you reach an out-of-court agreement. Your Collaborative Lawyers are prohibited from fighting in court on your behalves. This means that no time, money, or energy is spent on you and your spouse trying to tear one another apart for the purposes of preparing for trial.
Your attorneys’ jobs are to help you find a resolution that works for your family.
A Team Approach
As opposed to the adversarial court process, your Collaborative Attorneys work together, along with you and your spouse, as a team. The team goal is to help you reach an agreement that meets each spouse’s interests. There can oftentimes be additional team members who aid in this endeavor:
- A Collaborative Facilitator is a professional who specializes in family dynamics, communication, and/or childhood development. He or she is a licensed mental health professional, although your Collaborative Facilitator is not engaging in therapy. Your family may retain a Facilitator to help cut through the emotional clutter of divorce and enable you to find a resolution based on your short and long-term interests. If you have children, the Facilitator will work with you and your spouse to develop a parenting plan that meets the emotional and developmental needs of your child.
- A Financial Professional is a CPA or financial planner dedicated to seeing your family through the divorce process. A Financial Professional can help ensure your family has identified all assets and debts that need to be divided. He or she can help you develop options for financial support that are different than what a judge may order but may be able to increase the amount of funds available to the family through identification of tax loopholes and other benefits.
Your Next Steps
Is Collaborative Divorce right for your family? The only way to find out is to contact a Collaborative Divorce professional and learn more about this next generation divorce process.
Adam B. Cordover is co-author with Forrest S. Mosten of an American Bar Association book on Collaborative Divorce. He is an international thought leader on Collaborative Divorce and has taught professionals and spoken to groups throughout the U.S., Canada, Israel, France, and Brazil. Adam Cordover has offices in St. Petersburg and Tampa and practices throughout the State of Florida.