Divorce is tough. For most people, it brings up ideas of adversarial court battles, custody disputes and angry spouses. But divorce does not always have to mean war. Created in the 1980s, the collaborative divorce concept has slowly but surely gained popularity for couples who want to maintain peace in their family, even during a divorce. While the concept is still taking off in Indiana, collaborative law can be a great alternative to the "typical" divorce litigation process.
Collaborative Law is an alternative dispute resolution process in which the parties retain separate attorneys whose primary function is to help them reach an agreed settlement. The parties and their attorneys collaborate in good faith, and commit to communicate respectfully and honestly to represent the legitimate needs of both parties. The parties agree not to litigate, nor threaten to do so, and if that should occur, the Collaborative Law process terminates and both attorneys are disqualified from any further involvement in the case. Attorneys hired for a Collaborative Law matter cannot continue to represent their respective clients in a litigated case.
Collaborative Law is not the best option for everyone. The best candidates for the collaborative process are parties who:
a. Want a civilized, respectful resolution of the issues.
b. Would like to keep open the possibility of a friendship with the other party.
c. Will be co-parenting children together and want the best co-parenting relationship possible.
d. Want to protect their children from the harm associated with protracted, contested litigation.
e. Have a circle of friends and family in common.
f. Have ethical or spiritual beliefs that place high value on personal responsibility and integrity.
g. Value privacy in personal affairs.
h. Value control and autonomous decision-making and do not want to hand over decisions about financial distribution and/or child-rearing arrangements to a stranger (i.e., a judge).
i. Recognize the restricted range of outcomes generally available in the court system, and want a more creative and individualized range of choices available for resolving your issues (provided such are compliant with all rules and guidelines).
j. Place as much or more value on the relationships that will exist in the restructured family situation versus a priority of obtaining the maximum possible amount of assets.
k. Understand that conflict resolution with integrity involves achieving mutual, reasonable goals.
If you are considering divorce, find out if Collaborative Law is right for you and your family.