How Do I Know if a Collaborative Divorce Is Right For Me?
Divorce can be challenging at the best of times. It marks a significant shift in your life, affecting your living situation, your finances, your social life, and many other aspects. In the ideal setting, you and your spouse can come to an agreement on all relevant legal issues so that all you have left to do is go through the motions. Alabama law allows for a streamlined procedure, known as collaborative divorce, when the couple can agree on divorce-related matters. Not every couple can agree on all matters, however, and many divorcing parties choose to be confrontational and combative. Personalities and attitudes toward the divorce can mean that collaborative divorce works for some couples but not for others.
What Is a Collaborative Divorce?
In 2013, Alabama passed the Alabama Uniform Collaborative Law Act. The Act established streamlined, non-confrontational procedures for dealing with family law matters when the parties involved can reach agreement without the need for a protracted court battle.
In order to utilize collaborative law, each spouse has to hire their own attorney and then sign a collaborative law participation agreement. The agreement states the nature and scope of the matter, such as resolving all issues pertinent to a divorce. The agreement will also provide that the attorneys involved in the matter will be disqualified from any future divorce proceeding if the collaborative process fails and a contested divorce proceeding in court becomes necessary.
Collaborative law is a form of alternative dispute resolution, aimed at resolving any outstanding disagreements without the need to involve the court. Collaborative divorce is a more informal process, during which the parties meet together, along with their attorneys and neutral experts (child psychology experts, financial experts, etc.), and attempt to come to agreement on any pertinent issues on which they do not already agree. The goal is to reach a full settlement that covers all relevant aspects of the divorce. Ideally, the agreement will be reached before the case is even filed, although parties can engage in a collaborative law process for part or all of a divorce even after the divorce has been filed in court.
When Is a Collaborative Divorce the Right Option?
Collaborative divorce is a cheaper, less confrontational option for divorce. If you and your spouse can approach disagreements amicably and agree to work together to reach a resolution, a collaborative divorce can save you a lot of time, energy, stress, and money. You’ll still have your attorney on your side for advice, so you do not have to worry about being taken advantage of. You negotiate the result that is most fair to you and your spouse, so you do not have to worry about a judge making a decision that you find ultimately unfair.
Collaborative divorce only works, however, when all parties to the matter agree to participate. If your spouse is especially confrontational, high-conflict, manipulative, or otherwise combative, collaborative divorce might not be for you. Nor is collaborative divorce appropriate if there’s been a history of abuse, either emotional or physical, if there’s a lack of trust or concerns over hidden assets, or if you otherwise fear for the safety of you or your family.
Collaborative divorce works when both parties can work together amicably and professionally to reach an agreement. Talk to your divorce attorney about collaborative divorce and whether it makes sense for your situation.