By Anthony C. Adamopoulos, Divorce Mediator, Collaborative Divorce Attorney, Divorce Arbitrator.
Help for Nice people during a nasty time!
SELECTING THE RIGHT OPTION(APPROACH) FOR YOU-COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE (CD)
Collaborative Divorce (CD) aims to resolve the major issues in divorce, i.e., child parenting and support, spousal support, and the division of assets. CD follows a specific process and involves the use of neutrals to facilitate negotiations, provide guidance and save costs. The use of neutrals is a key difference from other processes.
Neutrals are professionals trained in collaborative divorce and in assisting divorcing couples reach divorce resolution. They include facilitators, financial experts and child specialists. Because their hourly fees are less than the attorney’s, they resolve issues at less cost.
Another difference in CD is the prohibition of Collaborative attorneys from representing their clients in litigation should the Collaborative process fail.
Collaborative Divorce is particularly right where:
- Both parties are willing to work together respectfully while recognizing they need help in actually sitting-down in the same room and discussing issues.
- Annual household income is about $ 200,000.00 or more.
- There are significant assets including a highly valued house and significant salary and retirement benefits.
- There is a spouse-owned business, or partner or shareholder interest.
- Confidentiality is a priority.
- A spouse wants a financial neutral to oversee the gathering and evaluation of all financial interests.
- There are deep-seated differences regarding the children.
The CD process includes:
- Initial consultations: Spouses meet individually with their respective attorneys to discuss if CD is right for them.
- Participation agreement: If both spouses decide to proceed, they sign a process agreement which establishes a total commitment to resolve issues outside of court and disqualifies the attorneys from any litigation.
- Assembling the team: The spouses, along with their attorneys, identify the needed neutrals. This may include a divorce facilitator to manage emotional aspects, a financial neutral to analyze assets and debts, and a child neutral to focus on the children’s well-being. Unlike litigation, the attorneys are generally not involved with this managing, analyzing, and focusing.
- Meetings and negotiations: The divorcing parties, the attorneys and the neutrals, engage in different meetings to discuss and negotiate the various issues. Meetings will often include one or both spouses with one or more neutrals, without attorneys.
- Disclosure and information gathering: Spouses provide total disclosure of financial information, assets, and debts. Financial neutrals analyze and present this information to ensure fairness and accuracy.
- Child-related issues: If there are children, the child neutral helps the parents create a parenting plan that addresses custody, parenting, and other child-related matters.
- Agreement and finalization: When the couple reaches total agreement, the attorneys prepare the necessary documents and submit them to the Probate and Family Court, for its approval.
©Anthony C. Adamopoulos, 2023