Domestic partners or spouses who are ready to file a legal separation or divorce might have different views on custody of children, division of property, and support. With all these disagreements, it does not mean that you do not have to rely on a judge. One of the ways that you can successfully separate or divorce is through a collaborative divorce. In this kind of divorce, you and your partner go through the divorce process using negotiations and agreements with the help of a professional. At Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer, we can help in your collaborative divorce and get the fairest results in your divorce process.
Definition of Collaborative Law
Collaborative law, which is also referred to as collaborative divorce, is resolving your marital differences as a team rather than relying on a judge. It sometimes involves mediation and negotiation to allow both warring parties to move from their marriages, knowing that they did not force a judge to decide on their behalf.
Collaborative divorce is not always the right decision for everyone. If you expect it to work for you, you and your spouse should be prepared to participate. You should recognize that collaborative divorce involves negotiations, and you should let go of your emotions.
Types of Couples that are Suitable for Collaborative Divorce
Collaborative divorce is a procedure that requires both spouses to make a good-faith effort to negotiate in a non-adversarial way. Therefore, couples who intend to use an acrimonious divorce would not be suitable candidates for the collaborative divorce since there is no cooperation in decision making.
Also, couples with varying opinions on what they believe as an appropriate settlement for their issues involved in their divorce are not suitable candidates for collaborative divorce. Such parties cannot negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement and would not fit this process.
Finally, collaborative law divorce requires both participating parties to have some level of trust in each other to maintain good faith in the negotiation process. If this is not the process, the collaborative process will be unproductive and challenging.
The Advantages of Collaborative Divorce
The must be a reason behind your choice of collaborative divorce compared with other potential methods used in the divorce process. Knowing about these benefits would help you trust the process and fully participate in it. Here are a few benefits of collaborative divorce that you should know about.
Collaborative Divorce Enhance Control Over the Process
It is easier to reach an agreement as a couple despite your positions rather than relying on another person. You and your spouse can work out an arrangement autonomously with the help of the professionals involved.
The Process is not Tiring or Stressful
Since collaborative divorce involves the warring spouses and a neutral party, the process is less stressful and tiring than a court process. If you decide to use the court process, you will likely go through a stressful process that involves a lot of legal involvement. Your meetings are scheduled within your convenience, which would not be the case of a court process where you have to honor a timeline that is determined by the judge.
Collaborative Divorce Gives Insight into Yourself and your Relationship
Most couples do not realize the reason behind their decision to divorce unless a third party intervenes in their situation. In a collaborative divorce, there is an opportunity to rely on your attorneys and other professionals in your situation. This provides a safe space to evaluate your situation without worrying about the legal reprimand that comes with a court process. In that case, you will develop usable insight about yourself, your relationship, the potential pros and cons of your divorce, and so on. In the end, you will be able to make a decision that will help you rebuild your life.
The Process Will Help You Avoid Court-Related Scheduling Problems
Court processes usually come with complicated issues that are quite challenging. The process might pose a significant challenge when you have children or medical needs to consider. Therefore, you will commit a lot of time and money to the process, which might further affect your relationship.
Lack of Formality Lead to More Creativity
The parties involved in a collaborative divorce can share their feelings and thoughts, which helps them view essential things and help them. This is different from a court process that involves a lot of legal formalities that are challenging and demanding. Also, the judge usually makes a decision based on the significance of the defense presented by one of the attorneys, which generally does not have a customized solution to the problem at hand.
The Interdisciplinary Team Insight Have Positive Long Term Consequences
A collaborative divorce team is composed of different professionals. Members of this team can provide insights into your lifestyle, which might help you in the future. For instance, maybe your spouse does not have a grip on your finances, but a financial advisor can help in developing a money management plan and a budget. Other professionals that might help in positive life insight include parenting experts, psychologists, and religious leaders.
Collaborative Divorce Will Lead to a Faster Agreement
Litigated cases can go for at least six months and can go as long as several years. This is a result of the high number of divorce cases presented to courts every year and the lack of enough staff to handle large numbers of cases. Therefore, collaborative divorce would save a lot of time since it involves a few appointed professionals independent from the court. Also, the decision made out of the collaborative divorce process is independent of the court, which reduces further complications.
The Process Helps in Maintaining privacy
Collaborative divorce is a private process that takes place in one of the offices of the attorneys involved. The clients can also decide on the document and what is released to the public. In a litigated case, you usually have to go through an ugly process, and non-intended personal information might end up in public.
Collaborative Process Preserve Relationship
Preserving your relationship is a crucial aspect of collaborative law. It helps participants to focus on effective communication without attacking each other.
Collaborative Law Cuts Down Your Expenses
Traditional litigation is expensive, and the total cost is highly unpredictable. However, collaborative law tends to cost much cheaper than litigation cases and has acceptable results.
Collaborative law is way cheaper than other options like mediation that most people would think is quite affordable. Mediation might seem to be an affordable option, but it would add some costs if the parties involved do not successfully mediate, leading to the need for collaborative attorneys.
The Process of Collaborative Law Divorce
In a collaborative divorce, the first thing to consider is the conversation between the spouse that intends to divorce. This will help in determining whether both parties are willing to negotiate and work as a team. If any of the parties or both parties are unwilling, the whole process will not work. Some of the aspects that would help you determine whether the process is suitable for you are:
Whether both of you are willing to abide by the agreement that you will settle on voluntarily
Whether you are willing to participate in a peaceful and effective co-parenting relationship
Whether you are willing to rely on several experts in the process
Whether you can put aside your need to be right or make your spouse suffer to reach into an agreement that meets your need
The second step is hiring a divorce attorney. When choosing an attorney, you should hire someone who is acquainted with collaborative divorce and can use alternatives such as mediation and resolution rather than going to court. An experienced attorney should also make a win-win settlement. That said, the attorney should impassionately represent your interest, meaning that he or she can change your divorce terms if necessary.
Next, you should schedule a private meeting with your lawyer to discuss your expectations. Your discussion should consider aspects such as child custody, child support, and division of your property. If your spouse has a pension plan or owns a 401k, you should discuss your preferences and whether your attorney should split such accounts.
In this process, you need to start assembling the collaborative divorce team. This includes the financial specialist, divorce coach, and another member you might consider relevant to the case. These professionals will work with both of you, meaning that they will handle the process as a team. All three specialists are not necessarily crucial, but if there are minor children involved, it would be suitable to include a child specialist amongst yourselves.
After you have met with the lawyer, you should meet with your spouse’s attorney in the first of the four meetings involved in this process. In the first meeting, both teams are expected to sign a no court agreement. This allows the attorney to withdraw the litigation process in court. The agreement also holds each party accountable and works as a strong motivation to negotiate even when there is a stumbling block. If your professional team withdrawals from the process, you will have to hire a new team, which might be expensive.
At the subsequent meetings, the spouses will meet with their attorneys or members of the collaborative team to review their needs and wants. Every time you and your spouse meet with your attorneys, you should progress towards a mutual settlement.
Please note, you should voluntarily provide any information that would be of importance to the negotiation. This includes salary information, employment information, and any other information related to your properties and debts. For instance, if you contribute to a 401K during your marriage, you can provide the most recent financial information about your financial accounts. Collaborative divorce does not include discovery rules, meaning that you have to depend on the words provided by your spouse. If your spouse tries to hide some of the information, then a collaborative divorce would not be the best option.
It is not common for spouses to hide their finances in a divorce. However, if yours does not disclose the assets during a collaborative divorce and your deception is discovered, the court might decide to reopen your case, which can alter your settlement.
After you have negotiated the terms and conditions of the divorce, your lawyers should draft a settlement agreement that should be signed by both parties. Do not sign the document unless you confirm that it is fair enough. If the judgment is fair enough, the judge should sign it, making it a final decision.
Issues That are Handled in a Collaborative Divorce
When you have scheduled meetings to proceed with your collaborative divorce, there are certain aspects that you need to discuss and agree on to ensure that the process is fair. These aspects are usually the bone of contention in the divorce process and must be carefully considered to come into an agreement. Here is a detailed view of the two main aspects that are focused on in a collaborative divorce.
Division of Property and Debts
If a couple decides on collaborative divorce, they must divide their properties and debts. Under California’s Family, Code 2581, property and debts acquired during the marriage belong equally among the couples. Three crucial aspects are used in the division of property and debts. This includes:
Determining if the property or debt is separate or community
Agree on the value of the community property
Deciding how to divide the property
Determining Whether the Asset or Debt is Separate or Community
Under the California divorce laws, the assets that a couple accumulate during a marriage is considered to be community property. In contrast, the one that is accumulated after separate is considered separate property. Therefore, the community property should be shared among the divorcing spouses while the separate property is retained by the individual who has accumulated it.
The date of your separation can be a significant hindrance in differentiating the properties. Ideally, the date of separation is not particularly the date that one spouse moves out of their home. Instead, it is the date that one partner decides to end his or her marriage, and some actions from the spouse, demonstrating the urge to do away with the marriage.
Agreeing on The Value of the Community Property
Spouses seeking divorce can generally agree to allocate a monetary value of every item of their property, and the value would be considered during a collaborative divorce. However, if they cannot agree on the value, they can seek help from appraisals, especially when dealing with items such as artwork or antiques.
One of the items that might pose a challenge in the evaluation process and might need assistance is retirement assets. With such items, you might need the help of a financial professional to make a suitable decision.
Division of the Assets
Under California divorce rules, spouses can divide their properties by allocating specific items to every spouse or buying another’s share of a particular asset. They can also decide to sell the asset and divide the proceeding or agree to hold their properties together.
Every individual should also be assigned all the debts that have been accrued over their marriage. This includes car loans, mortgages, even if they are entitled to one of the partners or spouses. Please note that dividing debts does not mean that the creditors will not continue collecting a community debt from one of the spouses.
When concluding about child custody, both spouses and the professionals involved in the divorce process must consider the children’s best interest while deciding how to share time with their children. Both parents have equal rights to custody. However, California law specifies two guiding policies that should help in child custody. This includes:
The welfare, safety, and health of the children
Children benefit from frequent contact with both parents
In most cases, joint custody is suitable when both parents agree on it. If it is not possible, the solution to the problem would be to design a parenting plan in the child’s interest. If the parent cannot reach a parenting plan, they should attend a mediation session before participating in the collaborative divorce process.
Please note, if one of the parents has a knowingly made accusation of sexual abuse on their child by his or her spouse, it is imperative to restrict custody or visitation of the accusing parent if the allegations are proven to be a force.
Other factors that you should consider while deciding on child custody include:
Continuity and stability of the child’s environment
The child’s education
The child’s preference
Find a Collaborative Divorce Lawyer Near Me
The legal issues involved in a divorce are numerous and complicated. Collaborative law offers a more straightforward solution to agree on these issues with the help of a competent divorce attorney. You need an attorney who knows how to effectuate a collaborative divorce without resorting to a court case. At Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer, we believe in a personalized approach, clear communication, and outstanding representation in all our divorce cases, including collaborative divorce. For more information, contact us at 310-695-5212 and request a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.