Many perceive divorce to be a contentious battle between the two parties which ends with a winner and a loser. While some splits may fit into that category, far from all divorces need this level of public debate and tension between former spouses.
Particularly for couples with children it may be worth exploring other options for resolving a divorce in a more civil manner. Collaborative family law offers couples and families the chance to complete a divorce process without court dates and long, drawn-out legal battles.
A collaborative divorce includes only the two spouses, their respective legal representation and potentially additional specialists. If the two parties come to an agreement through collaboration, a signed agreement is a legally binding contract the same as a court-argued divorce.
How collaboration works
When a couple chooses to begin a collaborative divorce process, each party needs to retain their own legal counsel to begin this process. Each spouse and their legal counsel sign an agreement to establish open, honest and transparent communication throughout the collaboration.
The parties can draft an initial set of goals for completion of collaboration. With these beginning goals, the spouses and attorneys meet to begin finding a middle ground between the parties. Additional specialists may participate to advise on various matters including parenting plans, financial issues and overall family counselling.
Is collaborative divorce right for me?
Anyone in British Columbia can choose to divorce collaboratively, though it is not always the best option for every situation. A collaborative divorce may not be the best option in cases of familial violence, child abuse or if one spouse refuses to appropriately participate in the collaborative process.
Collaborative divorce is, as it sounds, a group effort. This may mean that in cases of intense divide between the spouses or an otherwise tense family dynamic, choosing collaborative divorce may not produce a successful result. If a couple begins the divorce process through collaboration and the process fails, they can still move to the conventional court process to complete the divorce proceedings.
Each family dynamic is unique which means each divorce can bring its own set of concerns and goals. If collaborative divorce appeals to you, contact a skilled family lawyer to discuss using this process to complete an impending divorce. Choosing what is right for your family doesn't always have to involve a contentious legal battle. Collaboration offers an increased level of civility and transparency to the divorce process.