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Collaborative divorce: Potential pros and cons

Choice is a good thing - usually. Sometimes, however, too many choices make it harder to decide what to do. In recent years, an array of choices has opened up for couples in Ohio for how to go about ending irretrievably broken unions. No longer is a court fight to obtain a divorce, annulment or legal separation a foregone conclusion.

Alternative means for resolving the necessary issues out of court have developed that offer the possibility of settling things without a trial. Often they are less time consuming and costly. The more that a couple is able to work cooperatively, the more likely they are to achieve an optimal outcome. But, depending on the form of resolution used, it takes more than willingness to work together. To realize the ultimate benefit of collaborative divorce, experts generally agree it requires a solid commitment.

Potential positives

On one hand, collaborative divorce offers these plusses.

  • The process is confidential.
  • Both parties choose their own attorneys whom they know will be committed to the process.
  • Costs of any third-party experts (financial planners, family or parenting counselors) enlisted are generally, by contract, shared by both parties.
  • Court time is minimized.
  • By its voluntary nature, both parties are more likely in accord on desired outcome and more likely to abide by the final decree.

Potential negatives

On the other hand, if issues arise and the process collapses, the couple could be back to square one. Potential issues include:

  • Discovering that one spouse has failed to fully disclose all his or her assets or debts or discuss all issues openly and honestly.
  • A history of domestic violence could lead a judge to reject any agreement.
  • Disagreeing with the findings of a mutually hired third-party expert, scuttling progress made.
  • Most contracts require that in the event of failure, both parties must hire new attorneys.

In the end, only you can decide if collaborative divorce is right for you, and you need to be able to trust that your soon-to-be-ex-spouse shares the same view.

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