WHAT IS A COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE?
A collaborative divorce is a legal divorce procedure that enables married couples to negotiate every aspect of their divorce without fighting in court.
To agree on the key terms of a divorce, such as property, the division of debt, the visitation rights and custody of a child, child support, and alimony, couples often require a combination of negotiation and mediation.
In Pennsylvania, a collaborative divorce is a voluntary procedure in which spouses sign a Partition Agreement. This contract binds them to the process and prevents their respective lawyers from representing either one in any future litigation.
Both spouses also agree to fully disclose all requested financial information and provide the relevant documentation. Most of the work in a collaborative divorce is conducted during "four-way meetings," which must be attended by both spouses and their respective lawyers. These meetings are intended to finalize the specifics of their Pennsylvania divorce.
THE SPECIFICS: HOW DOES A COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE WORK?
The collaborative divorce process starts with a discussion between the partners seeking a divorce to confirm that both parties are ready and willing to negotiate and collaborate during this process. A collaborative divorce cannot work if either party is unwilling to participate. Next, each spouse must enlist the services of an experienced divorce attorney.
An experienced lawyer must be used in collaborative divorce. This is because the attorney must be able and willing to resolve any disputes that arise between spouses. They should also provide services like mediation, rather than depending on the court or a judge to decide based on unresolved issues.
Experienced collaborative divorce attorneys understand how to turn a lose-lose divorce into a win-win resolution for both spouses. That being said, an attorney should primarily focus on their own client's interests, so if their client is unhappy with the term of the divorce, the attorney should work hard to have it changed.
The next step in a collaborative divorce is for the spouse to meet privately with their lawyer to discuss their goals. This discussion should include how a spouse wishes to divide the liabilities and assets, the custody of a child or children, visitation rights, and child support.
If either party has a 401k investment or a pension plan, the spouse must discuss these details with their attorneys.
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THE "NO-COURT" OR PARTITION AGREEMENT
As mentioned previously, both spouses often sign a "no court" or Partition Agreement at their initial four-way meeting, which enables both lawyers to withdraw from the case if either party abandons the collaborative divorce process to initiate court action.
Furthermore, this agreement holds each spouse accountable and creates a powerful incentive for both parties to negotiate, even when the debate becomes challenging. If an attorney or legal team abandons the case, spouses must hire a new legal team, increasing the associated costs.
HOW TO DETERMINE WHETHER A COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE IS THE RIGHT CHOICE
Each spouse's perspective on the divorce process, their willingness to negotiate, and their capacity to work together are all determining factors regarding whether a collaborative divorce is a suitable option. If there is a history of domestic abuse or they cannot communicate, a contested divorce may be a more suitable option.
This type of divorce is centered around what each partner is legally entitled to. However, if both parties can put aside their differences and take a rational approach to the proceedings, collaborative divorce could help save both parties time and money.
SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE
Here are some of the benefits of choosing collaborative divorce:
If successful, both parties do not need further legal representation in court
It allows spouses to work out the terms of their divorce on their own, but with legal counsel present to advise them accordingly
Both partners can communicate more openly
Spouses can decide how to handle post-settlement disputes
It can make the divorce process a lot easier emotionally, and both parties can walk away with their dignity intact
Each spouse meets with their legal counsel subsequent meetings to discuss their requirements during the divorce proceedings. During every four-way session, both parties should be making progress toward the ultimate goal of a mutual divorce settlement.
Both parties are required to voluntarily provide any relevant information or documentation needed to continue negotiations. These may include tax returns, employment information, and other information regarding their assets and liabilities.
NEED AN EXPERIENCED COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE ATTORNEY?
999PAdivorce.com is home to an experienced, seasoned collaborative divorce attorney who can help to divorce spouses settle their divorce amicably. Our team is dedicated to approaching each client with due respect and care because we know how emotionally challenging finalizing the terms of a divorce can be.
We have extensive experience with collaborative divorce cases, so spouses can rest assured that they are getting the counsel and mediation they deserve. Contact us today for legal counsel on how to go about settling and negotiating a collaborative divorce respectfully.