The word divorce suggests contention by its very nature. It seems far-fetched to think that divorce can be anything but acrimonious and, as such, it is ripe for litigation. However, there is such a thing as a friendly divorce – using the term friendly loosely.
A collaborative divorce dissolves a union outside the court system and succeeds as the result of the parties working together towards an agreement. Their agreement must conform to Florida family laws, but for all practical purposes it’s drafted by the interested parties themselves.
Of course, this means that spouses must communicate reasonably and be open to compromise. Given those two preliminary requirements, there are several reasons why a collaborative divorce offers a positive alternative to a courtroom divorce.
1. It’s quick, relatively speaking.
First, collaborative divorce typically takes far less time to complete because the parties are not at the mercy of a judge and busy court calendars. Except for the actual submission of the required documents to the court, most of the work consists of the parties reviewing drafts and providing input. If there is a particular sticking point, mediation sessions may be arranged and overseen by a disinterested third party or mediator.
2. It keeps the children in mind.
If there are any minor children involved in the separation, collaborative divorce keeps them safe from the acrimony of a courtroom. Depending on the age of the children, collaborative divorce may also allow for the children’s input on issues that affect them, such as custody determinations.
3. It’s often less expensive.
The cost of entering a stipulation to divorce rather than pursuing a full-blown court hearing is substantially cheaper. Lawyers are primarily retained to steer the parties in the right directions in order to satisfy legal requirements and timelines.
4. It gives you a say in how your property gets separated.
Property division by a judge could leave a bad taste in the mouths of some litigants. While it seems laughable that a divorce may get hung up on who gets the dog or the silverware, such issues are not taken lightly by the spouses looking to divide them. Collaboration offers the separating spouses a chance to creatively barter and compromise as they separate their marital property.
5. It often helps everyone walk away content with the outcome.
Because the parties take a hands-on approach to their disentanglements, they are less likely to be dissatisfied with the terms and conditions afterward since they had input on the outcome. It also gives everyone a chance to see behind the scenes, so to speak, with regard to court-required calculations for things like child support and the division of marital property.
The bottom line
Collaborative divorces may not work for everyone; there are just some people who are just combative and unlikely to be reasonable in this type of situation. However, if there is a chance that spouses can find it within themselves to work together one more time, a collaborative divorce could be very effective at getting everybody what they want.