Collaborative divorce is a private, voluntary, non-adversarial, and contractual agreement to resolve a dissolution of marriage without involving the courts. Think of collaborative divorce as long-term mediation and settlement discussions. If all goes well and the parties reach an agreement, they bring their agreement before a family law judge for solemnization. Often, the process takes the form of a four-way agreement between two parties and their respective attorneys. The exact contents of such agreements may vary, but several common features stand out. First, all parties agree to openly share information, including financial and similar disclosures common to a traditional dissolution context. Next, all parties agree to refrain from threats of litigation. After all, one of the core principles of collaborative divorce is to avoid litigation. Finally, the attorneys agree to withdraw from representation if the collaborative process breaks down and the parties decide to litigate.
The Collaborative method is greatly underutilized in Colorado. While not appropriate for every case, Collaborative divorce has many positive attributes which may make it a great option for divorcing families. By staying out of a courtroom, parties ensure that their personal matters remain confidential. Additionally, the process is relatively efficient and affordable when compared with the tradiational litigation approach. Without the necessity of motions, court appearances, and trial preparation, parties to Collaborative divorces typically enjoy reduced attorneys’ fees and costs when compared with similar cases that must be litigated.
Moreover, the process can be interest-maximizing for spouses. With assistance to the family unit from a neutral facilitator, financial advisors, and/or mental health professionals, parties are positioned to focus their attention on the best overall outcomes for their family, rather than being pitted against the other spouse with children potentially caught in the middle of a warzone. Both parties enter their divorce settlements willfully and typically feel that they were allowed much more control over the process and end-result than parties to a litgated divorce. Finally, the process is entirely more comfortable than litgation. Because collaborative divorce operates outside the courts and is more informal, some parties are more at ease throughout the process.
The nature of collaborative divorce requires parties to come into negotiations with reasonable positions and be willing to listen to and work with one another. The process requires some level of trust, even when trust between parties may have broken down during the relationship. Therefore, parties with significant conflict in their relationships or who find themselves with a coercive or abusive partner may need to decide if this process is the right fit for their dissolution proceeding.
Contact Woody Law Firm if you think Collaborative Divorce might be for you. 303-968-1711.