by John R. Denny, Family Law Attorney Hittelman Strunk Law Group, LLP, Newport Beach, California
- The team approach helps you get through the process without going to war.
You will work with a team of legal, financial, and mental health professionals who are specifically trained in the Collaborative Process. They agree to work with you to reach a settlement outside of court.
- You make the decisions, not the judge.
In the Collaborative Process, the parties do not go to court. They resolve their differences through cooperative negotiation. Thus, all orders are made with both parties’ agreement.
- The process is less expensive than a litigated divorce.
While all cases are different, studies show that a successful Collaborative case is less expensive than a litigated case, even one which settles before trial.
- Coaches help you and your spouse learn to communicate in ways which can reduce the adversarial nature of the divorce.
In a full team Collaborative Divorce, each party will work with an assigned mental health professional acting as a coach. Among other things, the coach will assist the party to avoid the type of communication which will further divide the parties, and make settlement more costly and difficult.
- Your children’s interests are taken into account, and brought forth through a neutral child specialist.
The child specialist’s role is to be the voice of your children at the Collaborative negotiation table. The child specialist speaks to the children at age-appropriate levels. This enables both parents to have a clearer perspective on what their children really think and feel.
- More privacy – less of a court record.
Because you are not in court, your case does not become a public record. The only documents filed with the court are those absolutely necessary to make your agreement legal. You will not file declarations telling the world your private business.
- You can avoid going to court.
Because Collaborative Divorces are processed outside of court, you will not be subject to court rules, except those necessary for the court to process your judgment. You will not have to give public testimony in court. You will not have to miss work, or other important functions, to attend court on a date which may be inconvenient for you. You can go as fast or slow as you choose, and not be subject to the delays which budget shortages increasingly cause in litigated divorce cases.
- The process allows for more creative resolutions than the court is permitted to offer.
The court is bound by California statutes dictating what must be done in terms of property division, support, and custody. In a Collaborative Divorce, the parties are free (and assisted) to reach a result which uniquely fits their family.
- You will acquire skills which will enable you to more effectively co-parent after the divorce.
The Collaborative Process requires the parties to work together in order to solve the issues in their divorce. Working together is a skill which many couples facing divorce have lost. It is exactly what they will need to do in order to effectively co-parent their children after divorce. Thus, going through the process helps the parties with the skills they will need post-divorce.
- Result of a Collaborative Divorce: a better life after divorce.
There will be many events for the rest of your lives which a couple will both want to attend post-divorce without making it awkward for everyone else who is there. When you have children, these events include graduations, weddings, and grandchildren events.
Even when you do not have children, there are often overlaps in family and friends. Events with these people can be much less awkward when the divorce process itself has not driven the parties even further apart. This may be the best – and most lasting – reason to do your divorce collaboratively.