March 16, 2018

A Respectful Divorce

Does this title sound like an oxymoron to you? You would not be alone in thinking this. However, did you know there is more than one path to becoming unmarried, that is, to divorce?

The stereotypical divorce involves high legal fees, acrimonious meetings and phone calls with a soon-to-be ex-spouse, and court hearings. However, many divorcing couples never see a courtroom, and there is one process that does more than simply avoid court: it provides the tools to move forward.

Divorce through collaborative law is divorce without involving the court, in the simplest terms.  But collaborative law does more than avoid court. Collaborative law provides a team of support for divorcing couples. A financial neutral may be involved to help couples find a way to balance two households. A child specialist can assist a couple to create a parenting plan that best fits their children and helps them develop tools to co-parent in the future. A coach may be involved to manage the emotional aspects of a divorce and assist couples with the tough decisions.

The most basic tenets of a collaborative divorce lie in the participation agreement. Both parties and their attorneys sign this at the beginning of the process. The participation agreement requires couples to agree to act respectfully and constructively and to communicate openly throughout the process.

Perhaps most importantly, the participation agreement also contains a commitment that both the parties and their attorneys must not go to court to resolve any differences. This commitment not to litigate allows couples to work through tough issues without the threat of filing or the default to “see what a judge has to say.” It allows couples to work through their divorce on their terms, on their timeline, and without threats. If either party chooses to involve the court, both parties must hire new attorneys. This is a serious commitment.

For many couples, their broader goals in a respectful divorce are best supported by the collaborative process, including finding a resolution that they both see as fair and keeping their children’s best interests at the front of their minds. If you are interested in speaking with an attorney trained to help couples through this process, please contact us at (952) 358-7400 or