While it may seem common, not all divorces involve drawn-out court battles, fighting, and debilitating emotional stress. In fact, there are alternative dispute resolution methods that support the amicable end of a marriage and reduce post-divorce conflict like the collaborative divorce process.
During collaborative divorce, a separating couple can avoid the courtroom by working collaboratively with lawyers and neutrals to reach a peaceful, mutually beneficial settlement.
If you’re interested in the collaborative divorce process and think it might be the right approach for you, it’s time to find the right collaborative divorce attorney. But how can you be sure that you’ve found the right one for you?
Before settling on any collaborative divorce lawyer, there are a few questions that are good to ask:
1. What Extent Of Your Practice Is Collaborative Law?
You want to work with an attorney who is extremely familiar and has been specifically trained with collaborative divorce proceedings and typically dedicates a large amount of their practice to it specifically. Someone taking on their first collaborative divorce case, regardless of their track record as a litigating divorce attorney, may mean they have less knowledge about the specific negotiating techniques used in collaborative law to reach mutually beneficial agreements.
If you want to work with someone with specialized knowledge, good instincts, and enough experience to provide a smooth process, look for a collaborative divorce attorney who is very familiar with this type of law.
2. What Kind Of Collaborative Law Training Do You Have?
Just as you want to go into your collaborative divorce prepared, you want your attorney to be prepared as well.
In order to develop the appropriate collaborative negotiation skills, your collaborative divorce attorney should have gone through proper training. Another thing to look for is experience offering mediation services as well. This shows that they have experience reaching peaceful resolutions through alternative dispute methods in more ways than one.
You can also ask whether they have conducted prior collaborative cases similar to yours and whether the collaborative process was successful.
3. What Benefits Does The Collaborative Approach Provide?
Don’t be afraid to ask your attorney how they think you and your spouse may benefit from the collaborative divorce process.
One of the main advantages is the extra control couples have over the final result of the divorce. The collaborative process allows you to voice your concerns over settlement details, allowing space to make compromises and come to agreements on terms.
Another benefit is the freedom to schedule meetings on a flexible schedule that work for your life, since you’re not relying on the court’s schedule.
Most couples that choose the collaborative process with children are able to co-parent in raising their children after a divorce versus litigation through the Court system.
4. What’s Your Collaborative Divorce Process?
Each collaborative divorce lawyer’s process will be slightly different. It is important to ask any attorney you’re considering exactly how they plan to approach your case.
Most of the time, the process begins with a participation agreement that each party signs prior to beginning. It sets the goals for the process and defines conditions used to resolve disputes, however the terms may be adjusted to meet the unique needs of your parties.
Most collaborative cases are successful when your attorney other professionals, such as counselors, financial advisors, and parenting specialists to aid in certain matters in the process.
5. What Happens If We Can’t Reach An Agreement?
Collaborative divorce aims to resolve each case in an amicable way, but that’s not always possible. As divorce is an emotional, often stressful process, some couples may find it hard to reach an agreement.
It’s critical to ask any attorney what happens if you’re unable to reach an agreement through collaboration.
In many cases, the couple will opt for mediation or head to court for litigation as a last resort.
Find a Collaborative Divorce Attorney That Works For You
If you feel confident that the collaborative divorce approach is a better fit for you and your spouse to reach a settlement versus allowing the Court to dictate your timeline and aspects of your case, it’s important to find a collaborative divorce attorney that will work for you.
Before you settle with an attorney, be sure to ask them the questions above to gain a stronger understanding of their collaborative law experience, the typical process, and alternative options if collaboration doesn’t work out.
If you need a Tampa Bay collaborative divorce lawyer with years of collaborative experience that keeps healthy divorce at the heart of the process, contact Natalie Baird Mediations & Collaborative Divorce to schedule a consultation.