Ending a marriage is rarely an easy decision, but how you handle the divorce process is just as important. It can make a difference in how well you recover from the process emotionally and financially. A collaborative divorce can help you retain your rights and help you get a fair resolution of any issues that come up during your divorce.
What is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce is a blend of a traditional divorce using attorneys and divorce mediation. In a collaborative divorce, each party has the right to hire their own collaborative attorney. Each spouse and their respective collaborative family law attorney sign a contract (a participation agreement) that states they are committed to using cooperative techniques instead of combative tactics to negotiate and settle various divorce issues. Just like in a traditional divorce situation, your lawyer’s job is to try to get the most favorable outcome for you.
A divorce lawyer trained in the California collaborative law process will provide legal advice and represent you during a series of meetings between both spouses. Consult with a California family law attorney to determine if your divorce can benefit from a collaborative divorce.
Collaborative Divorce vs. Mediation
A collaborative divorce is similar to divorce mediation, but there are some differences.
Divorce mediation is a cooperative divorce method. The divorcing couple meets with a neutral mediator who is there to help and guide both parties in resolving the specific issues and financial matters while divorcing. The divorce mediator’s job is to help you and your spouse identify and understand the important issues that need to be addressed in your divorce. This will streamline the divorce process so informed decisions can be made by each of you.
There is no requirement to have a lawyer in mediation and this is the main difference between a collaborative divorce and mediation. Because a mediator is bound to remain neutral, they cannot act as your personal attorney or give you legal advice. This is important to consider if you are dealing with a hostile spouse.
A Final Word
It is important to keep in mind that mediators are neutral third parties and cannot take sides, regardless of the issue. Their role is to guide a divorcing couple to reach mutually agreeable solutions that are fair to the parties and their children if any. This is a great service, but a mediator is not your personal attorney.
A collaborative lawyer can represent you and their job is to advocate for your rights including alimony, spousal support, child support and division of marital property and debts and other important issues.
Regardless of the path you take to get a divorce, it is a smart step to consult with a California family law attorney. The divorce process has many highs and lows and it can be beneficial to have a legal advocate who can help reduce frustration and help you make informed decisions that will affect you and your family in the future.