Collaborative Divorce

Can you really have a civilized divorce? Ending a marriage is always difficult, but you don't have to be overwhelmed by financial or emotional conflict. By adopting a collaborative approach, you can get expert divorce advice and at the same time avoid the huge legal bills of jockeying lawyers while protecting your kids from debilitating conflict.

Like mediation, collaborative divorce (also called collaborative law or collaborative practice) is a process in which you and your spouse negotiate an acceptable divorce settlement agreement with some professional help. You and your spouse will hire specially trained collaborative attorneys who advise and assist you in negotiating the divorce settlement agreement. The parties and their attorneys agree that they will make an exhaustive effort to settle the case without going to court. Ordinarily, both spouses and their attorneys sign a "no court" agreement that requires the attorneys to withdraw from the case if a settlement is not reached and the case goes to court. A collaborative divorce may also involve other professionals, such as a child custody specialist and a neutral specialized financial professional called a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, who is committed to helping you settle your case without litigation. Both parties agree to quickly disclose all property and all information relevant to income without the need for discovery motions or depositions. Both parties agree that the evaluations will be done by an independent expert chosen by agreement. If the case settles, a petition for dissolution, a judgment of dissolution and divorce settlement agreement are filed with the court after a judge signs the judgment. No appearance in court is required.

Pros and Cons of Collaborative Divorce

The advantages of collaborative divorce as compared to litigation are the following:

  1. It is cheaper than litigation. There are no depositions, no interrogatories, no court appearances and no special masters.
  2. It is likely less time-consuming and emotionally draining for both of you.
  3. Even if you cannot settle all disputes, you may be able to reduce the issues to be litigated to one or two and thus reduce the cost of the litigation phase.
  4. Because both attorneys are dedicated to settlement, they can approach the divorce as a series of problems to be solved rather than as a contest.

The disadvantages of collaborative divorce are obvious:

  1. If the effort to settle without any litigation fails, and few or no issues settle, then both must start with new attorneys and incur fees on top of the collaborative lawyers’ fees.
  2. Some cases are not appropriate for this process, since both have to agree to collaborate.

As a member of the Collaborative Council of the Redwoods, Ute Scott-Smith, trained in both divorce financial analysis and the collaborative process, can serve as the specialized financial professional in your collaborative divorce.

Contact us today to learn if you can benefit from a collaborative divorce!


Ute Scott-Smith - Certified Divorce Financial Analyst

Ute Scott-Smith

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