If you're going through a divorce, it's common to experience strongly held differences of opinion with your spouse. Even the most amicable divorce will face a skirmish or two. No matter how much you disagree on the important matters related to your divorce, however, finding a way to settle out of court is in everyone's best interests.
If your divorce proceeds to court, the judge will make the important decisions for you and will eliminate your control in the process. Further, the judge – no matter how careful and measured – can never understand your relationship and circumstances the way you and your divorcing spouse do.
A collaborative divorce is a way to strongly increase the chances that you and your spouse will settle your case and avoid court. In basic terms, it's a process to resolve your divorce out of court.
The term “collaborative divorce” is referring to the process of resolving your differences together – rather than fighting them out in a family law court. It means to negotiate and mediate so both spouses can leave the marriage knowing their differences were resolved on their own – without making a family law judge decide crucial life decisions for them. In other words, it's another approach to handling your divorce.
It should be noted a collaborative divorce is not the correct path for all divorcing couples. It won't work unless both spouses are willing to participate in the process – accept the fact their divorce is a process of negotiation – and have the ability and willingness to set aside emotions and just deal with facts.
For example, a collaborative divorce would not be the correct path for marriages that involved domestic violence, emotional abuse, child abuse, or where there was a history of dishonesty about income and assets.
If you are going through a divorce, consult with a knowledgeable Los Angeles divorce attorney with extensive experience in collaborative law today. To give readers a better understanding about the collaborative divorce process, our California divorce lawyers are providing an overview below.
The Basics of a California Collaborative Divorce
In the collaborative divorce process – spouses negotiate an agreement with professional help. Both retain a specially trained collaborative lawyer who advises and assist in negotiating a settlement agreement.
Both spouses meet separately and regularly with their lawyer and will often involve other experts, such as a child custody specialist to help them reach a settlement without having to appear in a family court in a contested divorce case.
In a collaborative divorce, both spouses and their lawyers normally sign a contract that states they are making an agreement to not go to a family law court.
Collaborative divorce strongly incentivizes the parties to reach an out-of-court agreement. Each party retains his or her own attorney, but the attorneys involved are required to withdraw from the case if the parties are unable to reach an agreement.
This requirement means that if the parties are unable to settle and the case ends up going to court, they will need to start from scratch with new lawyers and will have wasted whatever legal fees they have already paid.
Minimizing Negative Emotions
A contentious divorce can lead to years of negative emotions that some people never overcome. The more acrimonious, the more intense the backlash of negative emotions generally is.
A collaborative divorce, however, can help minimize some of the stress. This isn't to say that you and your spouse won't have some serious disagreements along the way, but by going in a collaborative direction, you're both committing to attempting to keep your divorce as amicable as you possibly can.
This can go a long way toward maintaining civility. For collaborative divorce to work, you'll both need to be committed to the process, and committing to the process signals that you're both committed to minimizing the hurt feelings between the two of you.
The Primary Components of Your Divorce
While every divorce is unique, there are certain issues that need to be resolved before a divorce can move forward. The most common of these include the following:
- Child Custody Arrangements – If you have children, your primary divorce concern is naturally their ongoing well-being. If you and your spouse disagree on this critical issue, child custody will likely be your first focus in the collaborative divorce process.
- Child Support – Child support is based on a calculation formula that is generally fairly straightforward.
- Division of Community Property – In California, any property that you acquired during your marriage is usually considered community property (to be divided in the divorce process). If you and your spouse have significant assets or if your finances are complicated (such as by owning a business), this element of your divorce can be very complicated.
- Spousal Support – Spousal support (or alimony) is not guaranteed, but if one spouse can show his or her personal need and can show the other spouse's ability to pay, spousal support can come into play. Spousal support is predicated on maintaining the standard of living enjoyed throughout the marriage for that spouse with fewer personal resources. The calculation process considers many factors in determining both the amount and the duration of spousal support.
These all represent important elements of your divorce, and your respective attorneys will help you carefully consider each of them and will help you determine where you are and are not willing to compromise.
Benefits of a Collaborative Divorce
If you're going through a divorce, emotions are running high, and you may be having a difficult time determining exactly where your priorities lie. Your experienced divorce attorney will work closely with you to help you prioritize your goals regarding your divorce.
With your attorney's skilled guidance, you'll probably find that you're better prepared to pinpoint where you're most open to compromise and where you have the least wiggle room.
There are many benefits to collaborative divorce for spouses who make the decision to use this process. Obviously, it makes the divorce process much easier for you and the children, but it also provides other benefits, such as:
- Saves money on attorney fees
- Saves time on court litigation to resolve disputes
- Occurs in an informal environment
- Allows you to have more control in your divorce
- Allows you to negotiate a settlement in the best interest of your family
It's crucial to note that when you and your spouse don't cooperate with each other, you are forcing a family court judge to make critical life-altering decisions. Judges attempt to be impartial, but they don't always know what will work best for your family in the long run.
Consult with an Experienced Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer
If you are going through a divorce, you need to prioritize and compromise for the best interest of your family. It's not always easy and you will need a family law attorney who understands negotiation, mediation, and your desire to resolve your divorce as easy as possible.
If you and your spouse are interested in a collaborative divorce, our skilled Los Angeles divorce attorneys are committed to helping you through the process. To schedule a free consultation, contact or call our law firm.
Furman & Zavatsky
15821 Ventura Blvd #690
Encino, CA 91436