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Understanding the collaborative divorce process

Most people have some idea of how a litigated divorce works, and they may even know how a mediated divorce works. Both have been portrayed in movies and TV shows. However, you may not be as familiar with a divorce process that’s somewhere in the middle: Collaborative divorce.

Let’s take a look at just what this type of divorce looks like, what the benefits are and whether you and your spouse might be good candidates.

What is the collaborative divorce process?

You and your spouse will each retain your own attorney. You want someone experienced in collaborative divorce negotiations. The goal isn’t to “win” each battle but to reach terms that both spouses can accept.

You will meet with your attorney to go over your ultimate goals for the divorce, where you’re willing to give and take and where you draw the line. Then you, your attorney, your spouse and their attorney will meet to negotiate the divorce agreements. You likely will have a number of meetings to deal with all of the issues at hand. Under Tennessee law, you and your attorneys will sign a Collaborative Law Participation Agreement. before you begin.

What are the benefits of collaborative divorce?

Couples choose to use collaborative divorce over a litigated divorce for a number of reasons:

  • It costs less money.
  • It takes place in a more informal setting than a courtroom – typically an office or conference room.
  • It takes less time.
  • Everyone is in the room together, so you’re not talking to each other through your attorneys.
  • Both spouses can have direct input in the agreements.

You can bring in other professionals like financial advisors and child psychologists, but they’re there to help you settle issues — not to “testify” for one or the other of you. You each have your attorneys there for consultation and guidance, unlike a mediation setting where it’s typically just the couple and the mediator.

Is collaborative divorce right for you?

Maybe you and your spouse are on relatively good terms and are open to working together to end your marriage and move on. However, you’re not in complete agreement on all matters or you don’t feel comfortable with the kind of close working relationship that mediation would require of you. Collaborative divorce, with the right assistance, could be the best way to negotiate the end of your marriage.

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