Although a divorce is a big transition, there are strategies for making the process smoother. One option is collaborative law. If the parties reach agreement in collaborative law negotiations, they can present their proposal to the court via a written agreement. Given that the typical divorce takes several months or much longer, collaborative law can be a way for parties who are willing to cooperate to save time and money.
Making A Collaborative Law Agreement Final
Unless the proposal is grossly unfair to one party or contravenes applicable law (such as child support obligations), the court generally respects the agreement the parties and their attorneys have reached. Once approved, the agreement will become a binding court order.
Many of our clients are unsure of the differences between collaborative law negotiations and mediation. Although both options attempt to resolve material issues of the divorce without the court’s involvement, only mediation involves a neutral mediator (although each party’s attorneys are welcome to attend and privately advise their clients during the mediation). Collaborative law, in contrast, is more akin to a four-way meeting between the parties and their attorneys.
Protecting Your Legal Rights
There is also a common misconception that one’s legal rights are not as protected outside of the traditional litigation model. To the contrary, each party has the right to have his or her attorney present and may use the same discovery tools as in litigation. In addition, the negotiation is not limited only to the parties and their attorneys. A team of professionals may be consulted to make an informed decision, including accountants, child psychologists, and others.
Finally, the ultimate protection is that selecting negotiation or mediation does not foreclose one’s right to litigation. If the parties cannot reach consensus, they still have the right to litigate unresolved issues in court.
Source: Forbes, “4 Tips for a More Peaceful Divorce,” Robert Pagliarini, Feb. 25, 2019