Traditional divorces litigated in court can be expensive and emotionally taxing. The interests and needs of each spouse may not be fairly represented when the terms of a divorce agreement are left up to a judge. Many couples struggle through divorce litigation because they see no better options, but there are alternative methods that may give spouses more control over the process and allow them to reach amicable solutions.
Collaborative divorce can save couples time and money, and even reduce the emotional stress involved. For couples who believe that dissolving their marriage is the best solution, the process does not have to be difficult and exhausting. I have been helping spouses work toward amicable solutions since 1993. With more than 25 years of experience, my firm is prepared to handle any of the family law issues that you currently face.
The Basics of a Collaborative Divorce
The collaborative divorce process allows divorcing parties to negotiate agreements outside of court. Instead of taking their case to a judge, spouses negotiate with their attorneys present. This can allow them to communicate more openly about their needs and concerns. When a divorce agreement is reached, the couple's lawyers draft a final agreement and present it to the court, where a judge may approve the arrangements.
Before couples sit down to discuss the issues and make arrangements, the spouses must sign an agreement to participate in the process and make a full disclosure of all assets and income. This not only keeps the process fair for all parties involved, but also protects spouses from fraud and other issues. If a collaborative divorce fails to meet a spouse's expectations, he or she may void the process and choose to initiate divorce litigation.
How does this differ from a traditional divorce?
If you and your spouse are going into a collaborative divorce on the same page, the process can be relatively painless. Before starting this process, it's imperative that you and your spouse sit down with your lawyers present and complete a participation agreement. This agreement requires both parties to agree that all information will be shared freely, both parties will negotiate without going to court, all neutral mediators will be agreed upon and, if litigation is unavoidable, new counsel will replace the collaborative divorce lawyers.
Are you considering collaborative divorce? Here are the benefits
#1: Collaborative divorce allows you to save money.
Divorce litigation can be expensive. For example, your attorneys have to spend time "discovering" the other party's assets. In a collaborative divorce, you both reveal your assets and obligations. You also save money that would have been spent on a host of court fees. Collaborative divorce usually costs about one quarter of the cost involved in going to trial.
#2: Collaborative divorce may help you achieve a more respectful resolution.
Going to trial over your marriage dissolution is an emotionally taxing process. It often leads to an aggressive, "battle ready" mindset in which both sides are on the offensive. In a collaborative divorce, you can discuss your differences in a civil way. You can opt to hire outside specialists such as financial advisors and therapists to create a "team."
This will allow you and your spouse to respect one another from beginning to end of a case and have a variety of helpful resources available to you. Whatever hard feelings you may have, in the long run you will be able to move on with your life much more quickly and easily if you are able to avoid bitterness and contention throughout the divorce process.
#3: Collaborative divorce may save you time.
Court trials can drag on for months. In a collaborative divorce, the length of the process is wholly up to you and your spouse. You don't have to wait for a hearing date or any drawn-out legal procedures. That explains why collaborative divorce takes about one-fourth the time of a tradition divorce. In fact, it usually takes about 18 weeks on average.
#4: Collaborative divorce lets you control the outcome.
When couples choose to go to court, they give the family court judge final say over the outcome of their case and the power to make an arbitrary decision regarding the most important facets of their lives. In a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse can discuss all the terms of your divorce and maintain control over the end result. You also have the opportunity to hire an attorney of your choice, as well as any auxiliary team members you believe would assist in the process.
Steps Involved in a Collaborative Divorce
If there are any problems with this process and a settlement can't be reached, you will have to take your case to court. Not only is this a more tedious means of settling a divorce, but it's usually more expensive. Oftentimes, the court will settle your case similarly to how it would have been settled in a collaborative process.
- Complete disclosure: You and your spouse must first make a detailed list of all assets and income. Proper documentation must be available to back up items on the list such as receipts or tax returns.
- Conference: You and your spouse must be able to sit down with your collaborative divorce attorneys and work out the specific details of your divorce. This may require more than one session.
- Issue agreement: During this stage of the process, you and your spouse will resolve any issues pertaining to child support, child custody, distribution of property, and alimony.
- Draw up an agreement: Your lawyers will revise all of the documents you've presented and take them to court to be approved without you and your spouse having to be there.
Work with a Team of Specialists
It may be advantageous to hire a collaborative divorce team if difficulties and disagreements arise. This could be any combination of lawyers, mediators, financial professionals, child care professionals or divorce coaches. For instance, if you get through your list of assets and debts without any hang-ups, but hit a wall when it comes to child custody, you may want to bring in a child care specialist during the "issue agreement" phase.
They may be able to help you come to an agreement that won't force you to take the case to court. A collaborative divorce is still practical even if you and your spouse aren't amiable. A collaborative divorce lawyer will support and guide you and your spouse through this difficult time. If tempers are on the rise, you might also want to consider bringing in a divorce coach, who can help to move the process along.
Pursue Effective Resolutions with Kevin B. Gibbs, APLC Today
As a board-certified family law specialist, I possess the knowledge and skills that spouses may need to make positive decisions. When your family's future may be affected by the arrangements of your divorce, do not leave it to chance in a lengthy court battle. As an experienced collaborative divorce attorney in Orange County, I may help you and your spouse find better solutions outside of court. When couples are honest about their individual interests and needs, they may make better decisions for their present situations and their future. If you are interested in learning more about this unique option, please do not hesitate to contact Kevin B. Gibbs, APLC today.
"I used Mr. Gibbs for my divorce. He was great, very knowledgeable and professional! He was excellent at letting me know the options I had and pointing me in the best direction. He was upfront and honest about outcomes. I was very happy with his service."Joshua Lott
"I could not have asked for a better experience in the midst of a bad situation than working with Mr. Gibbs. He was honest and fair and patient and kind."Rebecca Sterling
"He is a great family law attorney and I would definitely recommend him to a friend or family member in need."Les D.