A collaborative divorce is a divorce where the couple works together to reach their divorce settlement, rather than having the court determine their settlement for them or working with a mediator to reach an agreement. A collaborative divorce is the most hands-off divorce a couple can choose, but this does not mean that there is no involvement with outside professionals with one. Each partner is advised to retain his or her own lawyer to ensure that his or her rights and interests are protected during the collaborative divorce process.
Overlaps Between Collaborative Divorce and Other Ways to End a Marriage
Collaborative divorce is often contrasted with mediation and associated with uncontested divorce. There are actually many ways to end a marriage and a couple may choose one depending on their specific needs and the circumstances of their divorce.
An uncontested divorce is exactly what it sounds like: a divorce where both parties agree that their marriage is not salvageable and there are no conflicts about their divorce settlement. Couples with dependent children under the age of 21 cannot divorce through this process.
Couples who are not yet ready to divorce, those who are not sure if divorce is right for them, and those who cannot divorce due to personal or religious convictions can choose to legally separate. To do this, a couple must sign a separation agreement. If both parties sign the document and have it notarized, it becomes legally binding. A separation agreement can outline all the details for the couple’s separation, including child support and a parenting schedule.
A divorce ends a legal marriage. An annulment voids it. If a couple’s marriage is found to be legally invalid, they can have it annulled. This means that legally, the marriage never occurred. In an annulment agreement, the court may make determinations about child support and property division, if applicable. Invalid marriages include marriages between close relatives, marriages entered under coercion or threat, and those entered by individuals who cannot provide consent to a marriage, such as those with mental disabilities or individuals who were underage and did not have parental permission to wed.
The Collaborative Divorce Process
First, each partner meets with his or her lawyer privately to discuss the divorce and his or her specific goals for it. During this meeting, the individual and his or her lawyer determine which goals are a priority and which can be compromised.
Then, the partners and their lawyers hold a four-way meeting to work out the preliminary terms of the divorce settlement. This can happen a few times, depending on the complexity of the divorce and whether issues need to be revisited later in the process. Other professionals, such as an accountant or a child psychologist who can make recommendations about a parenting plan may attend one or more of these meetings to provide insight to the couple about specific aspects of their divorce. Once the couple reaches an agreement for their divorce settlement, they can file their settlement paperwork with the court to finalize their divorce.
Work with Our Team of Experienced Brooklyn Divorce Lawyers
If you are considering ending your marriage, consider collaborative divorce as a less stressful, less expensive way to complete the divorce process. To learn more, contact an experienced divorce lawyer to discuss your case and your options. Theodore Alatsas ESQ is here to help you through the collaborative divorce process by providing you with legal advice and representation geared to support your rights and personal needs.