If the idea of going into a courtroom and working through the details of your divorce makes you feel anxious, then you may want to consider an alternative option. Collaborative law is an accepted option for resolving disputes, such as a divorce. The American Bar Association explains the collaborative process involves both sides resolving the case outside of a courtroom.
There is no involvement of the court beyond the legal requirements related to documentation and a judge signing off on the finalization of the divorce. You meet with your attorney and your spouse and his or her attorney to work out the details of your divorce settlement. Your attorney serves as your advocate and assists you through the negotiations.
How it works
When you agree to a collaborative divorce, you also agree that you will not go to court. You also cannot threaten to go to court throughout the proceedings. If you end up deciding that you would rather have your case heard by a judge, then your attorney and your spouse’s attorney can no longer work on the case, and you will have to hire new representation.
How it is different from other alternative dispute resolution options
Collaborative law gives you more control than going to court. It involves negotiations and working together to come to a resolution of your marriage. This may seem similar to other forms of alternative dispute resolution but it differs from mediation or other ADR because it makes use of professionals besides those in the legal field to assist each of you through the process. Depending on your needs, you may have consultants that help with your finances or your mental health.
In addition, the attorneys are not a neutral party. They still represent their client and work for that client in the negotiations. They also have a duty to the client because if the collaborative process fails, they lose their job.