Another option for avoiding court is Collaborative Divorce. Also known as Collaboration, this process is similar to Mediation but involves each party bringing in their own attorney as non-adversarial advocates. The lawyers sign an agreement that they will not go into court, and they work from there to help the couple reach the necessary agreements. Collaborative Divorce is very much a “team approach”, with outside professionals sometimes being consulted on financial and mental health matters. In some cases, a third party may be involved during the actual settlement agreement meetings to act as a true neutral.
A major benefit of Collaboration is that it can prevent unfair advantages that one party may have over the other in a courtroom setting. The unfortunate truth is that many courtroom divorces do not end in settlements that are in the best interest of either divorcing party. Instead, the judge’s final decisions are often based on the lawyers’ performance and rapport with court officials. Furthermore, Collaborative Divorce only goes as deep into the parties’ financial histories as the couple wants.
If children are involved, the divorcing parties will likely still need to appear in court in order to have a judge sign the custody agreement. However, successful Collaboration can expedite the divorce process considerably and still result in lower court fees even when such an appearance is needed. That said, Collaborative Divorce may not be the right process choice for any couples threatening Litigation or unwilling to embrace the “team approach” and work towards agreement. It will also not work in cases where one party is unwilling to disclose any of the financial information requested by the other party.
Still, Collaborative Divorce is very successful. Closure is reported in about 90 percent of cases.