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Collaborative Divorce

A lower-cost, lower-conflict alternative to divorce

Divorces involve decisions and choices. The professionals that you choose to assist you and how you utilize their help are decisions that can powerfully affect how your divorce moves forward. Some couples are able to resolve all of their divorce issues with minimal professional assistance. Other couples engage in long, drawn-out courtroom battles that cost the family dearly in emotional, psychological and financial resources.

Typically, parties facing divorce seek out an aggressive attorney. Aggressive attorneys are conflict-oriented attorneys. Conflict-oriented attorneys make money by inciting controversy as they identify problems to exploit. The more contentious the couple, the more conflict-oriented lawyers litigate issues, the more hours the attorney spends working on a case, the larger the legal fees and costs.

Will Collaborative Divorce Work For You?

  • Do you want a civilized, respectful resolution of the issues of your marriage?
  • Do you want to protect your children from the harm associated with contested divorce litigation?
  • Do you value privacy in your personal affairs and want to keep private the details of your problems within your marriage?
  • Do you value control and autonomous decision-making with regard to restructuring your financial life and/or raising your children?
  • Do you recognize the restricted range of outcomes and rough justice generally available through the court system and want a more creative, individualized resolution to your legal problems?

If you have answered “yes” to any of the above questions, perhaps, the collaborative approach to divorce is right for you.

Finding a win-win solution in a divorce

Collaborative law is the newest divorce dispute resolution option where parties to a divorce work with attorneys who seek out conflict resolution, as opposed to creating conflict. The collaborative approach to divorce involves specially-trained lawyers whose only job is to help parties to a divorce action settle and solve their legal problems. All participants, including the couple, as well as their attorneys, agree to work together respectfully, honestly and in good faith, and try to find win-win solutions based on the needs of both spouses and any children.

Court is NOT Involved

No one may go to court or even threaten to do so, and, if that should occur, the collaborative law process terminates and both lawyers are disqualified from any further involvement in the case. There is an agreement amongst the attorneys and the spouses to use all efforts to come to an agreement. Decisions in the collaborative approach to divorce are made by the spouses, and not by a judge or master. The process is about the needs of the couple and their family going forward, and not rehashing what brought them to the decision to divorce.

How is collaborative law different from the traditional adversarial divorce process?

The collaborative approach for divorce requires all participants to be open and honest in their exchange of information. Neither party takes advantage of the other’s miscalculations or mistakes. In the collaborative approach to divorce, spouses can insulate their children from their disputes. The collaborative approach to divorce permits the use of accountants, mental health consultants, appraisers and other professionals in an effort to meet the legitimate needs of both spouses. This saves both spouses time and expense. Brainstorming to meet the needs of both spouses replaces the traditional tactical bargaining in adversarial litigation.

Full Disclosure, Working Together

In the collaborative divorce process, both spouses sign a binding agreement to disclose all information voluntarily. “Hiding the ball” and stonewalling the other party are not permitted. The attorneys involved stake their professional integrity on insuring full, early and voluntary disclosure of necessary information. If an attorney becomes aware that his or her client is being less than fully honest or participating in the collaborative process in bad faith, the collaborative law process requires that attorney to withdraw.

Good Faith Problem Solving

Collaboratively-trained attorneys have a completely different state of mind about what their role is. Collaborative lawyers are dedicated to helping their clients achieve their highest intentions in their post-divorce life. Collaborative lawyers do not act as hired guns. They do not threaten or insult or focus on the negative either in their own client or the other side. They expect and encourage the highest good faith problem-solving behavior. The collaborative law process offers a greater potential for creative problem-solving.

The collaborative approach to divorce is efficient and economical in resolving the conflict in divorce. Collaborative law representation costs significantly less than the traditional adversarial process.

Litigation is quite simply the most expensive way to resolving a dispute. It is not uncommon for a single hearing on a single issue in traditional litigation to cost as much or more in legal fees and costs as it costs for an entire collaborative law representation. No one can predict exactly what you will pay for divorce through the collaborative process because every case is different. While the costs of your own fees cannot be accurately predicted, the rule of thumb is that the collaborative law process will cost from one-tenth to one-twentieth as much as being represented conventionally by a lawyer who takes issues in your case to court.

Take the First Step

See if collaborative divorce is right for you by starting with a consultation. I will explain how the collaborative divorce process would apply to your situation, and give you options for moving forward. Call the toll free at 1-844-PA-SOLVE (1-844-727-6583), 570-718-4900 or contact us online to tell us about your situation.

Divorce Problem? We can Solve It.

Angela F. Stevens, Attorney at Law is a full-service law firm with offices serving the Wilkes-Barre, Kingston and all of the Wyoming Valley including Luzerne, Lackawanna, Wyoming and surrounding cities. We are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and evenings and weekends by appointment. Feel free to call us toll free at 1-844-PA-SOLVE (1-844-727-6583), 570-718-4900 or contact us online to tell us about how we can help with your questions regarding divorce or family law.