A collaborative divorce is a legal divorce process that allows couples to negotiate all the terms of a divorce, without a court battle. Couples will use a combination of mediation and negotiation to reach an agreement on the property, debt division, child support, child custody, and spousal support. In the collaboration process, the parties will be informed of the laws concerning their issues.
When both parties are committed to resolving their issues through cooperation and negotiation, they can each be represented by an independent collaborative divorce attorney, which will ultimately save time, money, and stress of going to court.
Experienced collaborative divorce attorneys are well-versed in how to make a win-lose divorce a win-win resolution for both spouses. Latonia Early-Hubelbank, Esq. at Early Family Law has zealously represented many clients during a collaborative divorce and always has their best interests in mind during the process. In fact, collaborative divorce is the philosophy from which Latonia approaches all divorces.
The first step during a collaborative divorce in New York is to meet with your attorney to discuss how you would like to divide assets and debt, how you would like to handle child custody, visitation, and support for the minor children, and whether either spouse will support the other after the divorce. When Latonia meets with her clients, she begins assembling the collaborative divorce team to aid in the process. The collaborative divorce team usually includes:
– Financial analysts
– Mental health professionals
– Divorce coaches
– Child specialists
These specialists will work with both you and your spouse, so they will be joint specialists. Healthcare professionals are usually psychologists that are often able to identify obstacles and raise certain emotional concerns that need to be addressed that often the clients themselves are unaware of. The financial analysts will assist the parties in analyzing current spending and saving practices and preparing future budgets for the two new households that will need to be supported. The financial analysts will often create a plan for how everyone can move on in life now that there are two separate households to support. With the attorneys and specialists in place, you will have your collaborative team who will work together to help you and your spouse reach the best resolutions for your family.
During the first meeting with both parties and their attorneys a “no court” agreement will be signed which essentially holds each party accountable and is a strong incentive for the spouses to negotiate, even when discussions get tough. At later meetings, each spouse will meet with their attorney and/or professional team to revisit wants and needs during the divorce process.
Once all terms of the divorce have been negotiated, both attorneys will draft a settlement agreement for each party to sign. If the judgment is fair and reasonable to both parties, the judge will sign it, and it will become the final judgment of divorce.
Each party must voluntarily provide each other with any information necessary to continue negotiations, such as tax returns, salary information, retirement and investment reports, and all other information regarding assets and debts. There is no divorce discovery in collaborative divorce, so you have to rely on your spouse’s word that they have provided you with all relevant information. If you suspect your spouse will hide any information from you, collaborative divorce may not be the right type of divorce proceeding for you.
If both you and your spouse want to amicably separate and are willing to set aside your differences and discuss your divorce rationally, then it is likely that the collaboration process is best suited for you. For the couples who would like to proceed in mediation and who want legal representation in that process, the collaborative process will most likely be the best choice to accomplish resolving common divorce disputes.
Collaborative divorce does not cost more than litigation. By having each legal, emotional, and financial professional perform the services for which each is specially trained, the process usually costs less – both financially and emotionally.