When considering options for ending a marriage, individuals are often unaware they have choices. Not every divorce action results in a "scorched earth" campaign. Many spouses choose to engage in alternative dispute resolution as a means to peacefully resolve their differences outside of a courtroom, have a relaxed timeline, and keep the focus on their children to reduce collateral damage. A Collaborative Divorce is an effective way to accomplish all three goals.
Collaborative Divorce is a form of early intervention that can be used to avoid protracted divorce litigation. During the process, with the help of collaboratively trained attorneys, parties stay focused on resolution and settlement by intention. The benefit to both spouses is that it saves money, saves time, and avoids the collateral damage caused by litigation. It also keeps the parties in control of the decision-making process rather than have an unhealthy resolution by court order. Ultimately, Collaborative Law removes disputes from a “win/lose” environment and empowers the parties through issue spotting and problem solving.
Collaborative Divorce preserves emotional sanity and money typically squandered during litigation. From the start, the divorcing spouses agree to not go to court or even threaten to go to court during the collaborative process. They agree to voluntarily make a complete disclosure of information. Fees and costs are controlled by the party agreement. Moreover, it is important to note that ALL discussion or negotiation details are kept private. In litigation, disputes can become a matter of public record and sometimes gain media attention. Overall, the bitterness that typically surrounds a divorce action is replaced with empowerment which allows the parties to maintain and preserve family relationships during and after the divorce.
Collaborative Law is a process involving several four-way negotiation or “strategy” sessions. Initially, the parties sign a pledge to engage in mutual respect and openness. The pledge is the foundation of a collaborative divorce, since the parties will be a part of a team and will make all the final decisions. Ideally, if you cannot treat each other with respect, how can you come to an agreement?
During the process, there are opportunities to pause or break when needed. There is also more opportunity for fine-tuning and tailoring of an agreement that will meet the needs of the parties (and their children) because, as the team works together, corrections can be made, strategies changed, and priorities can be shifted to meet the needs of the family.
Furthermore, to be successful, Collaborative Law requires openness and full disclosure of relevant information about the parties. With a full picture, the team — made up of the attorneys and their clients — can best craft a full agreement.
Once the process begins, parties meet in an informal setting, converse freely with each other, and decide how to resolve disputes through thoughtful negotiation without the need for yelling or fighting in court.
The biggest winners in the Collaborative Process are often the children. Children are given a voice in the process and see less fighting and anger, so in the long run are less damaged by the divorce itself. The parents, not a judge, control the entire process and the outcome. The parties make a concerted effort to craft custody agreements that work best for them and their children. No court fights or ugly custody battles. This leaves more time for the parties and their children to move on, heal, and learn the new daily routine of life in two homes.
For more information about Collaborative Divorce in South Carolina and how we can help, we welcome you to contact Brinkley Law Firm to schedule a consultation.