Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative Divorce – Divorcing With Dignity

Is divorce dividing your family? It does not have to. Do you know that you can get divorced in Pennsylvania without going through adversarial court proceedings? Collaborative Divorce provides spouses with an alternative.

collaborative divorceCollaborative Divorce is a new and better way to divorce when both spouses agree that they want to terminate the marriage, but still have to work through issues of custody, support and property division. It is easier, more amicable, healthier for you and your children and generally faster and less expensive than the traditional approach to divorce in which each side retains an attorney and other experts and prepares to litigate and, of course, win. However there are no winners in this situation, and often, children are the biggest losers because their losses are long lasting and emotional in nature.

The aim of Collaborative Divorce is to create outcomes that best serve the needs and values of all parties involved and to do so through a process that is cooperative rather than adversarial. Negotiation, compromise and creative problem-solving are the bywords of the collaborative divorce process.

How Collaborative Divorce Works

Collaborative Divorce in Six Steps
Did you know that you can get a divorce in Pennsylvania without going through adversarial court proceedings? Collaborative divorce provides spouses with an alternative.

The aim of collateral divorce is to create outcomes that best serve the needs and values of all parties involved and to do so through a process that is cooperative rather than adversarial. Negotiation, compromise and creative problem solving are the by-words of the collaborative divorce process.

There are six basic steps in a collaborative divorce.

  1. Each party hires his or her own lawyer who is trained and experienced in collaborative law and mediation.
  2. Both parties and their attorneys sign a contract called a participation agreement in which they commit to participate in a series of joint meetings during which they will discuss and develop solutions to divorce related issues including alimony, distribution of assets, responsibility for debts, child support, and custody/parenting arrangements. They commit to treat one another respectfully, to openly and honestly disclose all financial and other information relevant to the issues, and to reach a final settlement agreement without court intervention. As part of this contract, all parties agree to maintain absolute confidentiality throughout the process, creating a safe environment for spouses to freely express their concerns.
  3. If needed, a team of supporting professionals is chosen. By agreeing on the team members, the parties are often able to save money and to make better use of resources than is often possible in the litigation or trial approach. The team may include the following:
    • A divorce coach who helps the parties manage their emotions and constructively express their needs and concerns;
    • A financial neutral who organizes the information on the couples’ assets and cash flow and provides financial and tax advice; and
    • A child specialist who meets with the children to understand their specific needs and preferences and then helps to develop a child-centered parenting plan.
  4. In a series of joint sessions, all parties, the divorcing spouses, their attorneys and any supporting professionals – work together to develop a comprehensive settlement agreement. Contrast this with an adversarial divorce proceeding in which each party speaks only to his or her own attorney, and the attorneys meet separately to fight for terms that they’ve won their client over the other.
     
    The initial meeting is usually just with attorneys and spouses to address immediate concerns, such as who will pay which household bills and how the children will be cared for until a final agreement is reached. In subsequent meetings, the lawyers lead the divorcing couple in structured discussions and problem solving.

    Each party is guided to explain his or her personal needs and values, to identify shared interests, and to engage in constructive problem solving while keeping in mind that the goal is to end the marriage without hurting each other and other family members in the process. One by one, each issue is put on the table and everyone focuses on ways to resolve it that will meet everyone’s needs as much as possible, rather than treating the other side as an adversary to be attacked. The need for both attorneys to have significant experience and expertise in collaborative law should be obvious.

  5. A final settlement agreement is written and signed.
  6. The attorneys prepare and file the court documents necessary to obtain the divorce decree. No court appearance by the divorcing couple is necessary.

Whether you anticipate amicable or acrimonious divorce negotiations a collaborative divorce attorney can help ensure a final agreement that will help all parties move forward in a positive manner.

Mary Louise Parker is trained to facilitate amicable resolutions whenever possible, but also fully prepared to litigate your matter in court when necessary. To schedule your consultation call (570) 424-9100 or email mlparker@mlparkerlaw.com

Is Collaborative Divorce Right For You?

If the following values are important to you, Collaborative Divorce may present a realistic and sensible option for a resolution of divorce and other family-law disputes:

  • Respectful communications
  • Prioritizing the needs of children
  • Effective co parenting
  • Recognizing the value of the needs of both spouses
  • Minimizing blame and finger pointing for past and current pain and frustration
  • Focus on the future
  • Private and confidential process

Whether you anticipate amicable or acrimonious divorce negotiations, Mary Louise Parker Esquire, as a collaboratively trained divorce attorney, can help ensure a final agreement that will allow all parties to move forward in a positive manner.