The term “collaborative law” has been used a lot in recent years, and it is still a relatively new concept, particularly in the divorce process. You may still have conventional notions about what the divorce process is like and assume it always involves couples fighting in a courtroom.
Since many states, including Florida, have now adopted no-fault divorce, the divorce process has become smoother and less adversarial. A no-fault divorce option means that you do not need to provide a court with a reason that you want a divorce, such as adultery or cruelty. You can just say you believe there are irreconcilable differences between you and your spouse, and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
Avoiding the courtroom
The goal of collaborative law is to get married couples divorced without having to set foot in a courtroom and leave many important decisions up to a judge. Decisions must be made on numerous topics during a divorce, such as property and debt division, alimony, tax considerations and if children are involved, child support and custody.
Collaborative divorce involves two spouses working together to create an agreement on these topics between themselves. This is commonly done through mediation, with the assistance of a professional trained in collaborative divorce, such as a mediator.
The collaborative divorce process may involve one or more mediation sessions with the mediator acting as a neutral third party, giving feedback and making suggestions as necessary. You will talk through each divorce topic and, with the help of the mediator, ideally come to a fair resolution.
Understanding divorce law is still crucial
Although you are not going into a courtroom, having an attorney with you during mediation is a good idea. An attorney provides advice and guidance on the potential solutions you explore, telling you if they are or are not in your best interests, and why.
Married couples who choose the collaborative law process during divorce often come away with better resolutions and more amicable relationships with their former spouse. However, the process does not work for everyone. Couples unable to reach a resolution at mediation always have the option to pursue divorce through the court.