Divorce ends an old and begins a new chapter of life. It is often a challenging transition that should be handled with care. Working with attorneys and professionals, clients can resolve divorce matters in a civil manner and with concern for sensitive and difficult life situations. That’s what we at Paula Lock Smyth Law Offices seek to do in the collaborative divorce process.
What is the Collaborative Divorce Process?
With collaborative divorce, couples who want to end their marriage work together with the help of their attorneys to reach a mutually agreeable result. This process avoids litigation (going to court) and seeks an outcome that is most beneficial for all involved. Before starting a collaborative divorce, couples sign a contract agreeing to participate in the process. During the collaborative divorce, they resolve matters through meetings with attorneys and the couple, often including other professionals such as counselors, accountants, or CPA’s. If anyone decides to go to court instead, the parties must find new attorneys because the collaborative contract prevents their collaborative lawyers from representing them in litigation concerning the divorce.
Why Do I Believe in the Process?
At Paula Lock Smyth Law Offices, we support and encourage collaborative divorce. We believe in the process because it is more flexible and controllable and those clients who use the collaborative process are more accepting of the outcome. With this process, we can keep sensitive issues in mind and work through them. It makes an already difficult situation more tolerable when agreements are reached that are mutually beneficial.
For instance, we can discuss and agree upon temporary arrangements, such as temporary custody and visitation, temporary use and possession of the marital residence, payment of bills and support, while also negotiating the terms of the final divorce. This approach is much less stressful to the client than them taking the witness stand and testifying under oath about the most intimate details of their family lives in front of the Judge, who is a complete stranger, and oftentimes, a courtroom full of observers or acquaintances. The client retains more control over their situation than in contested litigation.
Collaborative Divorce Isn’t a Cookie Cutter Approach
What is great about the collaborative process is that it allows each party to essentially go at their own pace to get things resolved. If there are any underlying emotional issues that need closure, clients can work with the mental health team member for counseling to resolve the problems before moving forward. At Paula Lock Smyth Law Offices, we’ve had several unique cases that benefited from the collaborative divorce process. Just recently, we had a case where one of the spouses was very ill. His serious health condition required occasional hospital visits. The collaborative divorce method provided a flexible, less traumatic way of working through the divorce while allowing him to take care of his serious health needs, which was the best solution for this family and their children.
Who is Collaborative Divorce most suitable for?
Our firm believes that collaborative divorce is best for nearly every client. Even in difficult cases, we’ve been able involve the necessary professionals to work through the issues. Almost any situation can be tailored to work with within the collaborative process and the clients will benefit from a collaborative divorce versus traditional litigation.