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Collaborative Law Is A Formal, Out-Of-Court Process

Collaborative law is manner in which to complete a dissolution when the parties are unable to reach a full agreement and complete a dissolution while working with their attorneys individually. The collaborative process is the same as marriage dissolution, except that it requires that both parties be represented by an attorney and that both parties and their attorneys sign an agreement obligating them to resolve all the issues through negotiation and agreement, without filing a contested divorce. Rather than moving into a contested divorce when the parties are unable to resolve their issues, collaborative law focuses on building a cooperative and structured environment to help the two sides reach an agreement out of court.

At the law firm of Sowald Sowald Anderson Hawley & Johnson in Columbus, Ohio, we have lawyers familiar with and experienced in the collaborative law process who will work with you, your spouse and your spouse’s attorney to reach a reasonable and suitable agreement.

What Is Collaborative Law?

In collaborative law, both sides and their attorneys enter into a written agreement to work together as a group to resolve all the issues and to terminate the marriage by dissolution. The parties and their attorneys schedule a series of four-way meetings during which disputed issues are discussed, information and documents are exchanged, and an agreement is worked out. If necessary, financial planners, accountants, counselors and other experts may be involved to review information and offer assistance and suggestions on how to best resolve certain matters.

Is Collaborative Divorce Cheaper Than Litigated Divorce?

Collaborative divorce is almost always cheaper than litigation, and significantly so. Although there can be more up-front costs because of the involvement of a full professional team, the total cost is considerably lower than if each party’s separate family law attorney spent months (or years!) preparing for trial. The process tends to be much faster and requires a smaller investment of attorney time and prep work—and those two factors will reduce overall expenses.

How Does Collaborative Divorce Differ From Mediation?

Both collaborative divorce and mediation involve negotiation between parties outside the courtroom. The major differences between these methods are how and by whom the negotiations are conducted.

Collaborative law takes a team approach. Each spouse is represented by their own Ohio family law attorney and all four parties participate fully in negotiation sessions. In addition, the parties and their attorneys jointly select knowledgeable professionals to assist them throughout the process. Collaborative meetings are guided by an agenda advanced to all parties and everyone in the room is working toward accomplishing the same goals.

In mediation, however, the sessions are conducted by a neutral third party (the mediator), whose job is to keep the conversation going so that spouses can reach an agreement on their own. The mediation process can involve two spouses in the same room, or spouses could be in two separate rooms with the mediator going back and forth between the two. Each spouse may have the opportunity to consult with their own divorce attorney, but family lawyers do not play as direct a role as they would in collaborative law, and there is usually no guidance from other professionals.

How Long Does Collaborative Divorce Take In Ohio?

The length of the process will depend on numerous factors, including how many disputed matters there are to resolve, how far apart spouses are in their level of disagreement, and the necessary level of involvement of the other members of the professional team.

Once all the issues have been resolved, the family lawyers formalize the details in a written agreement, and the couple can file a petition for dissolution, which requires only one court visit.

Even when the collaborative process takes a little longer than normal, it is still likely to be far faster and less expensive than a litigated divorce. And, in the end, it is the parties who control the outcome rather than the court.

Schedule A Collaborative Law Consultation With One Of Our Attorneys

To schedule a consultation about collaborative law with an Ohio family lawyer at Sowald Sowald Anderson Hawley & Johnson, call 614-556-4231 or fill out the contact form on this website. Our law office is on Fifth Street in downtown Columbus.