Far too many think of divorce as a contentious, emotional legal battle that saps a couple of whatever last few drops of goodwill that existed between them. But, it does not need to be this way. In fact, collaborative divorce continues to increase in popularity here in Florida. Collaborative divorces focus on spouses working together to reach mutually agreeable solutions to all issues incident to divorce. This means that not only do the parties have more control over the outcome of a divorce since they work to resolve it as opposed to having a judge resolve it for them, but it also tends to be less costly and less time-consuming.
In addition to avoiding the strain a contentious divorce can bring, collaborative divorce helps preserve the possibility of a strong and respectful relationship between the divorcing spouses. This is especially important when there are children resulting from the marriage. While the marriage may be over, a successful co-parenting relationship can still exist and help the children continue to thrive.
The Focus in Collaborative Divorces
Collaborative divorce focuses on reaching a settlement. It is about finding an acceptable middle ground when the spouses’ interests come into conflict. The couple must work together, or “collaborate,” for the process to be successful. They must approach the process as though they are not adversaries, but two people with the mutual goal of resolving all of the issues that led to the divorce. Negotiation is heavily relied upon in the collaborative divorce process.
Each party has the option of retaining an attorney. This does not mean that the process is to become adversarial. The role of an attorney in a collaborative divorce is solely to ensure that a party’s interests are being protected and that the party understands the legal implications of the decisions that are being made during the collaborative divorce process.
Both parties must sign a collaborative divorce participation agreement, which indicates that they are both agreeable to the collaborative divorce process. The agreement will identify the issues that need to be resolved during the process and also set forth the ground rules. Additionally, the agreement will state any documentation or evidence that each party needs to provide in order for negotiations to proceed in good faith. The parties must also agree not to litigate the issues set forth in the agreement. Should either party have a change of heart later on and wish to litigate, the parties’ attorneys are required to withdraw from representation and each party will need to retain new counsel.
Once the agreement is signed, everyone will get to work reaching an agreement on divorce issues, such as:
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support
- Division of property
- Spousal support and maintenance
Throughout the process, the parties must maintain transparency. All relevant information, such as financial information, must be readily brought to the table so that both parties can make informed decisions as they work toward an agreement. This transparency and collaboration will encourage stronger communication throughout the collaborative divorce process and hopefully continue after everything has been resolved.
Florida Collaborative Divorce Attorneys
At Orlando Family Team, we believe in the power of collaborative divorces. There is nothing better than seeing two spouses work together to resolve conflicts that can so easily turn combative. Fostering open communication and collaboration makes the process less stressful and less time-consuming for everyone involved. Let us help you with your collaborative divorce journey. Contact us today.