Divorce can be a life-changing event, and if you are unable to reach a Marital Settlement Agreement with the other party, your divorce proceedings can have the potential to become contentious and hostile. Divorces that cannot be settled through mediation or amicable negotiation must be litigated in front of a judge, and in many instances, each side winds up having to give up much more than they would have if the process had been amicable.
A Collaborative divorce is one in which the process is transparent and distinct from other models of dispute resolution, which allows the clients, attorneys and other professional participants to meet together to resolve their disputes in a civil and respectful manner. This process occurs in a safe environment, where each client is represented by a collaboratively trained attorney, who diligently advocates for their client, but do not behave in an adversarial manner. The clients agree to work together honestly, in good faith, and to disclose all relevant information. The goal is to reach a fair settlement that meets each party’s needs and interests. All of the major issues related to a divorce, such as division of marital assets, spousal support, and if applicable, child custody and child visitation are discussed and negotiated with the guidance of your collaborative attorney, along with the participation of neutral mental health and financial professionals. A collaborative divorce can help you avoid a costly and contentious divorce, and if you have children, it can make the entire process more harmonious.
What Are the Steps Involved in a Collaborative Divorce?
If you are interested in a collaborative divorce, there are some steps you must take to complete this process, which include:
- Sign a Participation Agreement that details the commitment of both sides to reach a settlement without going to court, or threatening to go to court and leaving major issues to a judge’s discretion.
- Negotiate major issues such as the division of marital assets, division of marital debts, spousal support, and if children are involved, child support, child visitation, child relocation, and child custody.
- Prepare and Sign an agreement – this document, which is often known as a Marital Settlement Agreement and Parenting Plan in Florida, is a contract that details all the terms of a divorce, and lists how each major issue has been resolved.
- Wait for the Court to Review the Agreement – the agreement cannot be entered into the court as an official resolution of your divorce until a family court judge reviews and approves this contract. Once a judge approves this document, it is signed into an order of the court, and a final judgment of divorce is granted.
Benefits of a Collaborative Divorce
If you choose a collaborative divorce, you can eliminate much of the hostility and conflict that may arise if a judge was deciding the major issues of your divorce. That’s because in a collaborative divorce, you are free to make agreements that are flexible and specifically tailored to meet your unique needs.
Furthermore, the give-and-take nature of this type of divorce can make both parties feel as if they created a fair and balanced agreement that was not forced upon them by a judge.
Another benefit of a collaborative divorce is that it takes less time than a contested divorce, and it typically costs you less in attorney fees. And if you have children, arriving at an amicable agreement can save them the hardship of undergoing the emotional stress that is involved often with custody litigation.
The Need for a Family Law Attorney
Despite the fact that a collaborative divorce is usually an amicable process, you should still seek the services of an experienced Collaborative Law Attorney to help you. This ensures that all your rights are protected, and that you see all sides of an issue before making a compromise. Attorney Eric Cheshire is a certified Collaborative Divorce Practitioner in the state of Florida, who has extensive experience in family law negotiation and litigation.
If you have agreed to a collaborative divorce, please call the The Law Office of Eric C. Cheshire, P.A. at 561-655-8844 for a confidential legal consultation about your case.