Getting a divorce can be one of the most difficult decisions of one’s life, and the process itself can make the emotional pain worse. Traditional divorce proceedings often fuel bitterness and resentment as each side fights to “win” the divorce and get the best settlement from the judge. Children become pawns used to hurt the other spouse and even the smallest issues become acrimonious battles. Not only is this damaging to everyone, litigation in a divorce is lengthy and expensive.
Fortunately, divorce doesn’t have to be an ugly scenario anymore. Now, a couple choosing to end their marriage amicably while still settling issues like child custody and dividing real estate can work together to lay out the terms of their divorce. Rather than representing them in court, their legal counsel acts as advisors and mediators. This is called a “collaborative divorce,” and a Wilmington collaborative divorce attorney can help you achieve a divorce with dignity in addition to a beneficial outcome so you can move forward with dignity.
In a traditional divorce, an attorney’s job is to fight in court on behalf of his or her client to get him or her the best possible settlement. Often, this leads to painting the other party as the “villain” or cast their client as the wronged party in order to achieve that goal. A collaborative divorce lawyer works in a different way.
First, both spouses must hire attorneys who practice collaboration and establish that they will seek to negotiate the terms of their divorce themselves, without requiring a courtroom. It’s agreed that if one or both parties are unable to reach a settlement, then both parties will end the collaboration, seek new legal representation, and complete the divorce proceedings through litigation, allowing a judge to make the final settlement.
Prior to negotiations, each attorney will work with their client to see what their goals are and the limits of what they are willing to compromise on. Once the couple meets, they will discuss terms, and the collaborative lawyers will mediate and assist where necessary in order to keep the proceedings moving forward productively and with civility. Unbiased experts may also be a part of aspects of the proceedings to help the couple separate property or come up with a child custody and support arrangement that is best for the children. Experts such as financial advisors, child behavior experts, and real estate agents aren’t there for one side over the other. Instead, they work with both parties together and equally to help them reach terms that are mutually beneficial.
While collaborative divorce law firms are a fairly new concept, they’re becoming popular options. The main reason is that most couples don’t want an acrimonious, painful divorce. Working together to create a mutually beneficial outcome is a much better option for both parties.
It’s especially beneficial for couples with children who can create a unique custody arrangement based on everyone’s best interests, especially their children’s. Plus, children whose parents are working together and getting along won’t find the divorce as difficult as when both parents are arguing and angry.
Because all the proceedings take place in a neutral location of both parties’ choosing, there’s no need to worry about scheduling court dates. This saves time and cuts down on attorney fees. Often, choosing a collaborative family law firm can lead to a divorce being finalized in just one-fourth the time as a traditional, litigious divorce.
Not every divorce lawyer represents clients in collaboration. In New Hanover County, Ashley Michael with Michael & Russell, PLLC offer collaborative divorce representation.
When you’re choosing an attorney, and you’re considering a collaborative divorce attorney, it’s important to be honest and realistic about your situation. If one or both of you is unwilling to compromise with the other, and sitting at a table together often leads to arguments, a collaboration may not be right for you.
If you would like to learn more about collaborative divorce and determine if it’s the best step for you, contact a collaborative divorce law firm today to get started. Contact Ashley Michael at 910.255.5722 to schedule a consultation.