The United States has an adversarial court system. In both civil and criminal cases, two sides fight issues out. Lawyers on either side advocate for their clients. This system has endured because, in most cases, it’s very effective. But it’s not always ideal for issues involving family matters. In California, many divorcing spouses are starting to pursue collaborative divorce.
The basics of collaborative divorce
In a collaborative divorce, each spouse is still represented by a lawyer. The difference is that the lawyers are trained in a special way of handling these cases. Their strategy is more about reaching a consensus than about winning. The goal is to arrive at an agreement that both parties agree with. After that, it’s presented to a judge, who still needs to sign off on it.
At the start of the collaborative divorce process, both lawyers involved sign documents stating they will withdraw from the case if an agreement can’t be reached. If that happens, each spouse needs to find a more traditional, adversarial divorce lawyer. This means that attempts at collaborative divorce can become more expensive in the long run.
Mediation versus collaborative divorce
Collaborative divorce is an alternative method for dissolving a marriage. In that way, it’s similar to mediation. But in mediation, one neutral third party works with both spouses to resolve differences and arrive at a settlement. That’s very different from collaborative divorce, where each party still retains their own advocate.
In truly amicable situations, collaborative divorce can work. If both parties are serious about wanting to volunteer accurate information and work together to reach an agreement, collaborative divorce can save everyone time and money. The collaborative approach is often much less stressful than traditional divorce proceedings.