Collaborative divorce is a non-adversarial process in which spouses work together with trained professionals to resolve disputes outside of court. The collaborative divorce process allows a divorcing couple to reduce or avoid the stressful and emotionally difficult aspects of litigating a divorce as they work out their differences with the help of their attorneys.
Florida does not have any statutes addressing collaborative divorce, but there is a general process to be followed. Each spouse is guided by his or her own attorney in a collaborative divorce. The spouses and their attorneys sign a binding agreement to resolve all of the issues of the divorce without the court’s help. If they cannot settle their disputes, the agreement usually specifies that the attorneys are required to withdraw from the case.
In the collaborative divorce process, each spouse meets one-on-one with his or her attorney to discuss the issues to be resolved in the divorce, such as property division, child custody, and child or spousal support payments. The spouses and their attorneys then meet together with a facilitator. The facilitator is usually a mental health professional and leads the meetings. A divorcing couple may also use experts when needed, for example, in settling matters of child custody or valuing assets such as a house. The parties must then come to an agreement on the issues surrounding the divorce.
Once the spouses come to an agreement, they may treat their divorce like a simple uncontested divorce. The judge approves the agreement that they have settled upon, and the divorce is finalized.
The benefits of a collaborative divorce are many. One of the major benefits is that it gives the divorcing spouses more control over the outcome of their divorce. In a collaborative divorce, important decisions are made by the couple rather than by judges who may have many other cases to deal with and whose time is limited.
Additionally, the collaborative divorce process is cost-effective. Since it minimizes the time spent in court, it also minimizes court costs and the costs of the litigation process, such as discovery, hearings, and trial. Working together in the divorce process is quicker and more efficient than litigation and avoiding drawn-out conflict is cheaper.
In a collaborative divorce, the discovery process is much faster than in a litigated divorce. Discovery is the stage of resolving a dispute in which the parties exchange necessary information, such as financial records. In a collaborative divorce, the parties agree to fully disclose all relevant documents and information, so the other spouse does not have to ask, saving both time and money.
Importantly, a collaborative divorce is less stressful than a contested divorce. The collaborative divorce process minimizes conflict and avoids many of the emotional harms resulting from litigating disputes. This is especially important if there are children involved. The amicable resolution of disputes can help parents protect their children from the stress of a divorce and can help to foster stronger family ties.
The collaborative divorce process can help a divorcing couple achieve a smoother, friendlier transition. If you are considering a divorce, please contact the dedicated West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for a free initial consultation.