Pros and Cons of Collaborative Divorce
In July 2017, the Collaborative Law Process Act (CLPA) went into effect. It provides an official alternative to resolving family matters in Florida though the Collaborative Process; however, there are pros and cons to deciding to use this route.
What is the Collaborative Process?
The Collaborative Process is a method of resolving a couple’s differences through voluntary settlement negotiations versus litigating the matter in family court. The process is designed to be as non-adversarial as possible, which helps both parties feel like they are being treated fairly. This helps parties focus on the ultimate goal, which is the settlement or agreement.
Each party starts by retaining his or her own Florida family law attorney, and each party has to agree to collaborative divorce. Once this is confirmed, there is an initial meeting between both parties and their attorneys to prepare the participation agreement. The agreement identifies the issues they intend to resolve, establishes a set of guidelines, or ground rules, and identifies any documents needed. It will specify that both parties will agree to negotiate in good faith and not use the court system to litigate any issues of the agreement itself. If one party wants to litigate contested matters, the agreement will contain a clause that both attorneys must withdraw and each party has to get a new attorney.
Pros of Collaborative Divorce
Why would parties want to agree to a collaborative divorce? There are some definite benefits to the program. These include:
- Parties have greater control over the results: Important decisions regarding child support, custody, and division of marital assets are discussed between parties, rather than left to a judge to decide.
- Lower Costs: In traditional divorces, both parties would retain their own experts, which can be rather expensive. In a collaborative divorce, parties usually hire one shared expert and they split the costs.
- No adversarial proceedings: You are not being interrogated by the other party’s attorney, to start. Some people have fears when it comes to traditional courtroom proceedings, and a collaborative divorce removes that concern.
- Discovery moves faster: Since parties are working together in good faith to reach a settlement, discovery tends to move more quickly. Discovery is the exchanging of information and the “meat” of a case.
Potential Drawbacks to a Collaborative Divorce
A collaborative divorce might seem like the ideal option on the surface, but there are some things to keep in mind.
- If collaborative divorce fails, you both have to hire new attorneys : Collaborative divorces contain the clause that any matters that are not resolved and need to be litigated must be done with new attorneys.
- Your spouse may not be honest: While you hope that both parties are acting in good faith, the fact remains you are going through a divorce which means there are significant issues to begin with.
- Domestic violence: If there is any allegation of history of domestic violence, the judge may not allow or accept a collaborative divorce agreement.
Florida Divorce Attorney
If you are getting ready to file for divorce in Florida, the right family law attorney can help protect your rights and help ensure that you receive a fair settlement. If you are considering a collaborative divorce, contact West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for a consultation.