When it comes to divorce, most cases end up being either collaborative, contested or uncontested. All three options can be complicated, time-consuming and costly, but some divorce cases are easier to resolve than others.
In particular, a collaborative divorce is typically considered the easiest, cheapest and most straightforward type of divorce. This is because both spouses are able to reach an agreement on how to divvy up their assets and property, as well as sort out any other affairs during the case without litigation.
In a collaborative divorce, both spouses work together to determine the terms of the divorce. This involves negotiation and, in some cases, mediation. Through this, the couple can determine the different key aspects of their divorce together. Among other things, this includes:
- the division of property and debt
- custody and child support
- spousal support and other financial arrangements
- any other terms needed to end the marriage
The objective of a collaborative divorce is to reach an agreement that benefits both sides as equally as possible without the need for conflict and litigation. That’s why it’s so important for each spouse to get their own collaborative divorce attorney. Not only will each local divorce attorney represent their client, but they can also help manage or prevent any conflicts from occurring during the process.
For collaborative divorce to work, both spouses must be able to maintain a civil relationship throughout the entire process and agree on a divorce settlement without going to court.
Once both spouses have decided to get a collaborative divorce, the next logical step is to get an experienced divorce attorney. If one party already has an attorney, the other spouse should get their own as well.
Next, each spouse and their attorney must sign what is known as a “participation agreement.” This is a document that essentially ensures that the attorneys will stop working on the case in any capacity if they are unable to reach an acceptable divorce settlement and the case goes to court. If the case does go to court, then the spouses may need to obtain new representation.
After signing the participation agreement, each spouse meets with their attorney separately to determine their preferred outcome to the divorce. This could include things like alimony or the division of assets and debt.
When the initial meeting is done, the spouses and their respective attorneys then meet up to discuss the terms together. In many cases, a neutral third-party mediator may join in this meeting to help resolve any lingering issues on the case. Depending on the situation, there may be other trained professionals, such as a child specialist or a financial expert, involved. These professionals serve a neutral role and are only there to help ensure the spouses settle the terms without litigation.
A collaborative divorce may involve multiple meetings with both sides. This usually continues until both spouses either reach a satisfactory agreement or decide to take the case to court.
If both spouses agree on the terms of the divorce, then the rest of the process is fairly straightforward. Both attorneys will create a settlement agreement that includes all of the agreed-upon terms for the divorce. Both spouses will then read over the agreement and, as long as nothing has changed, sign it. Once that’s done, a judge will also look over and sign the agreement before closing the case.
Although collaborative divorces do not go to court, they can still take several months to resolve. The more meetings and back and forth negotiations there are, the longer it takes to close the case.
Collaborative and uncontested divorces both rely on negotiation and civility between all parties involved. However, even though uncontested divorce is similar to collaborative divorce in many ways, there is one clear distinction between the two.
Unlike in collaborative divorce cases, those looking for an uncontested divorce come together to discuss the terms of their divorce without the need for attorneys, mediators or other third parties.
Once the spouses reach an agreement, they then find a local Birmingham divorce attorney to draw up the divorce papers and file them. In some cases, neither spouse ever needs to see the inside of a courtroom at all.
There are several key advantages to getting a collaborative divorce.
- Collaborative divorce is usually much less expensive than other types of divorce. This is in large part because these divorces do not require litigations or hearings. This also makes this type of divorce relatively straightforward and quicker to resolve. That said, a collaborative divorce can still cost several thousand dollars, depending on the case.
- Both parties can communicate more openly, minimize conflict and negotiate on the divorce terms until they reach an agreement. This makes things less stressful and complicated than in contested divorce cases.
- As long as they can remain civil and reach an agreement outside of court, the spouses do not need to wait for a judge to determine the divorce terms.
In addition, since a collaborative divorce involves much less conflict, there’s a higher chance that both parties will maintain a civil relationship once the marriage ends. This makes it easier for those who anticipate remaining in the other’s life after the divorce is finalized, such as in the case of shared custody.