WLTX.com > Collaborative Divorce Offers Options to Court Battles

Posted on July 29, 2013


From WLTX.com:

The key distinction between collaboration and traditional divorce is that in collaboration, the parties agree not to litigate (argue the settlement’s details in court), though a collaborative settlement must also get a judge’s approval at the end. Attorneys involved should be those trained in the collaborative process, Kuhn said.

“Instead of being litigators, you’re more like a transactional lawyer, lawyers who do business deals,” Kuhn said.

Spouses need to negotiate anything from a family business to child care.

For example, child support payments typically stop when a child turns 18, Arons said. “That didn’t make sense for our family, for a variety of reasons,” she said. “For me, it goes through college. My attorney said, ‘You won’t get child support through college.’ But me and my ex knew what was best. I got it.”

If collaboration breaks down, a spouse can turn to court, but they must hire a different lawyer than the one retained for the collaboration, Kuhn said. That gives attorneys an incentive to work together.

Beauchamp and Kuhn said collaboration offers advantages over conventional litigated divorce:

— Clients have more control over the timetable, because it’s not set by a judge. That’s usually good, though Hussey noted that if one spouse slows the process, the other can’t turn to a judge to speed things up.

— It’s less expensive, and usually quicker, because attorneys don’t prepare blizzards of motions for court.

For example, in litigated divorce, spouses may appraise a family business at different amounts; then, their financial experts must argue over valuation in court, Beauchamp said. In collaboration, that conversation takes place outside court, probably with a single neutral appraiser.

— Finally, as Hussey emphasized, collaboration is generally psychologically easier on children. Lawyers say many studies show that the more contentious the divorce, the more trouble children have adjusting in the aftermath. The communicative tone set in collaboration carries over into spouses’ post-divorce relationship, Beauchamp added.

Read more at WLTX.com.