Collaborative Divorce: An Alternative To Divorce Litigation

collaborative divorce an alternative to divorce litigationTypically we advocate for divorce mediation as an affordable and less stressful alternative to a courtroom battle. However, sometimes couples feel they need their own representation rather than that of a divorce mediator; in that case, we recommend learning more about collaborative divorces. 

Collaborative divorce is an alternative to divorce litigation, which can be draining financially and emotionally. Also, we highly advise staying out of a courtroom/litigation if you have children. 

The Basics Of A Collaborative Divorce

With mediation, a lawyer is a neutral party hired by two people to work through their divorce. If there are areas of contention or debate, or feelings/emotions are so high that mediation doesn’t feel like it will work, a collaborative divorce is the next best option.

With this divorce, each party hires their own lawyer so they feel their interests are fully represented. However, rather than meeting in a courtroom before a judge (which wastes thousands of dollars via legal billing and courtroom fees), the individuals and lawyers meet together to work through the divorce settlement agreements, including any child custody, visitation, or support terms.

Another unique feature of a collaborative divorce proceeding is that both parties – and their lawyers – agree ahead of time that they will not resort to litigation. If one or both parties change their minds and decide to pursue litigation, they must find new lawyers to continue.

Finally, many collaborative divorce proceedings involve a neutral team of experts, including marriage and family therapists, financial planners, and divorce coaches depending on the client’s situation. All of these professionals are dedicated to keeping the process as efficient and stress-free as possible.

Benefits of a Collaborative Divorce vs. Divorce Litigation

There are multiple benefits of pursuing collaborative divorce over courtroom litigation.

Collaborative divorces are better for your children & family

Mediation or collaboration should be the only option if any minor children are involved. Lawyers specializing in collaborative divorces are dedicated to supporting the emotional health of everyone – especially children.

Numerous studies show the more contentious divorce proceedings, the harder it is for children. Divorce is harmful to young children and almost always takes an emotional toll. Even in the most equitable divorce, children report feeling anxious, less confident, and sad. They also experience challenges at school. Supporting your children’s and step-children’s well-being is a top priority in a collaborative divorce.

We also recommend reading our post, 5 Tips For Helping Children Cope With Divorce.

You’ll save thousands of dollars

Collaborative divorces cost more than mediation but significantly less than the average divorce litigation process. According to Nolo, the average cost of a traditional divorce ranges from $15,000 to $26,000 – and that’s outside of the courtroom. Cases that go to court cost an average of $25,000 or more. 

Collaborative divorce aims to make fair and equitable decisions across the board, with the well-being of any children at the core, and to complete the proceedings as swiftly as possible. Experts state that the average collaborative divorce costs about $10,000 to $15,000 – but those fees are split between parties.

The proceedings are confidential

Divorce court is a public arena. Everything that is said or happens there becomes part of the public record. Divorce mediation and collaboration are handled in confidential offices and conference rooms, so your personal information is only exposed to the lawyers or other professionals comprising the collaborative team. All of them are sworn to uphold confidentiality.

The goal is to minimize interpersonal conflict and emotional strain 

Unfortunately, the family law courtroom has become a hotbed of drama, conflict, and emotional strain, and that is part of why it takes such a huge toll on those who participate in that realm – lawyers included. 

The overarching goal of divorce collaboration is to ease the interpersonal conflict and emotional strain as much as possible so you can both move forward with your lives. Lawyers specializing in collaborative divorce know that things will get heated in certain moments, and they’re experienced at de-escalating heated emotions and redirecting the conversation positively and productively – including taking breaks whenever necessary.

How To Choose A Collaborative Divorce Attorney

Hiring an experienced collaborative divorce team is the key to a successful collaborative divorce. Not all divorce attorneys choose to practice collaborative divorce because some appreciate the higher billing potential available through more traditional, litigation-based proceedings. 

To choose the best collaborative divorce attorney:

  • Look for Bay Area lawyers who specialize or solely practice using mediation or collaborative methods.
  • Take advantage of free consultations with at least three to five lawyers or collaborative teams before deciding which is best for you.
  • Use consultations to learn more about the process. They can be especially educational in helping you prepare for your first real session with your collaborative divorce layers.
  • Ask for recent client referrals to learn more about how the process was for them. We do not recommend relying on online reviews when searching for family law professionals. Word of mouth is more trustworthy.
  • Choose a lawyer with experience in any unique circumstances you may have, such as making decisions around child visitation and child custody in blended families, when a family business is part of the decision-making, etc.

Contact The Law Offices Of Gerard A. Falzone & Work For A Collaborative Divorce Process

Are you interested in saving money while also moving through a divorce as painlessly as possible? The Law Offices of Gerard A. Falzone has worked for more than 30 years to keep personal conflicts to a minimum and is not interested in facilitating courtroom battles.

We exclusively handle mediation and collaborative divorce proceedings. Contact us to schedule a consultation and determine whether or not we’re a good fit for you.