Most people in Pennsylvania think that divorce always involves bitter litigation in court. However, there are alternative dispute resolution methods available through which couples may be able to negotiate full agreements outside of the court process. One of these alternative dispute resolution methods is collaborative divorce.
What is a collaborative divorce?
Collaborative divorce is an out-of-court process through which the divorcing spouses, their attorneys and several other professionals meet to try to negotiate full agreements for their divorces. The idea behind collaborative divorce is that people are generally happier with the outcomes of their divorce cases when they negotiate them rather than leaving the decisions up to a judge. While this process is not appropriate for every divorce, it might work well for couples who can communicate with each other and maintain an open mind during the negotiations.
How does the collaborative divorce process work?
In a collaborative divorce, both spouses and a team of professionals will meet with each other several times. In addition to lawyers, the professionals might include financial planners for help with dividing property, real estate brokers if the home will be sold, parenting coordinators to help design a parenting plan that works for everyone involved, and child psychologists to ensure that any agreements reached will protect the children’s mental and emotional health. The parties will negotiate to try to reach a full agreement. If an agreement is reached, it will then be filed with the court and become a part of the final divorce decree.
People who are unable to reach agreements through the collaborative divorce process will have to start over from scratch and litigate their cases through the court process. Collaborative divorce might not work for couples who cannot communicate with each other or for those whose marriages involve domestic violence and other similar problems. However, for couples who are open to negotiation and compromise, collaborative divorce may be easier and less costly than going through the court system.