If you’re not familiar with collaborative divorce, I’m here to share a few insights with you based on my years of practice. You may hear the word “divorce” and think of mudslinging or being grilled by an attorney while you’re on the witness stand.
Collaborative law is so different. You may have already guessed, but collaborative divorce means the spouses and their attorneys collaborate. They all work together as a team to separate assets and reach a resolution on difficult issues like parenting time, child support, alimony, and the like. The collaborative process is completely voluntary but has proven very successful in keeping cases out of court, ex-spouses civil, and family finances in better shape. Collaborative divorce has significantly grown in popularity in the past few years. In our view, here are five advantages of hiring a collaboratively trained attorney:
1. Less Conflict
Divorce is hard. There’s no getting around that. But divorce can be much harder on you mentally, emotionally, and financially if you and your spouse are going back and forth in court. In the collaborative process, both spouses agree beforehand, in a legally binding contract, that they will commit to resolving their domestic issues out of the courtroom. When the spouses share that same goal, they’re often more committed to working through disagreements and getting issues resolved. Instead of being a team in marriage, they become a team in a different game.
2. More Privacy
Court files are public record. Anyone can go to the file room at their respective county courthouse and look at the most intimate details of a family’s breakup. Was there a cheating spouse? You’ll probably read all about it in the filings. Did a spouse gamble away all the marital assets? That will be in there, too. If you’re considering divorce, airing your most intimate struggles in open court can be like adding salt to a gaping wound. Maybe you just don’t want anyone to know why your marriage is ending. Maybe you don’t want anyone to know the balance of your retirement accounts. Whatever your reason, depending upon where you live, a collaborative divorce allows you to keep most of your private details out of the public record. There is no recorded testimony, no public accusations – just an agreement between two spouses on how their marriage will end. In North Carolina, if spouses successfully complete the collaborative divorce process, the only public record could be that of the legal divorce itself. In South Carolina, your agreement must be approved as an Order of the court and become part of the public record, but you and your spouse control the narrative and will not include any intimate details regarding the breakdown of your marriage.
3. Like-minded Support
Collaborative divorce attorneys are specifically trained in the collaborative process. However, most of us are not trained in child psychology or wealth and capital management. The great news is that if you are committed to the collaborative divorce process and you need an expert to help you figure out, for example, what parenting arrangement works best for the children, there are child specialists, financial planners, and divorce coaches who are also committed to the collaborative process. They can work together with both spouses (or one-on-one) to find a resolution to a specific issue – and they often charge less than the hourly rate of an attorney. These professionals are an excellent resource that can help give you more peace of mind knowing they share your same goal – a peaceful resolution.
4. Streamlined Process
The goal of the collaborative process is to resolve domestic issues as amicably and efficiently as possible. If both sides are following through with their commitment, both spouses and their attorneys are sharing all the necessary documents in a timely manner, there is open communication, and additional professional help can be attained easily by adding trained professionals to the collaborative team. This process eliminates what you often see in litigation: attorneys sometimes repeatedly asking for documents, subpoenas being issued to get more information, each side looking for their own expert witnesses to support their case, and so on. At Dasher Law, my colleagues and I work to streamline the process so that we can resolve your divorce amicably, efficiently, and equitably, and you can move forward with the next steps of your new life.
5. Cost-effective Approach*
I’m always leery when I see the * after a sentence. It means there’s a “but” coming. Let me first say that a collaborative divorce is generally more cost effective than litigation. When you have both sides working toward a resolution, they spend less time fighting. BUT – you and your spouse play a role in the final cost. If you work together, you will keep costs down. But if you start the collaborative divorce process and start having difficulties, your attorneys will have to walk you through those issues, which could mean a higher overall cost. My goal is always to help my clients resolve their divorces efficiently and as financially soundly as possible.
If you’re facing a divorce, I want you to know that there is hope that you can divorce differently. Collaborative divorce is an ideal fit for many families. If you’re ready to divorce differently, call us and set up a consultation. We’d love to help.
If you’ve ever driven by my office in downtown Matthews (or you’ve just spent the last few minutes exploring this site), you can’t miss our mission statement:
What’s your first impression of that statement? Is it refreshing? Confusing? Laughable? Maybe when you think of divorce, you think of a knockdown, drag out court battle. Maybe someone you care about has gone through a bitter, contentious divorce where both sides are slinging legal papers at each other at a rapid-fire pace. Maybe you’ve seen a dear friend have to tell a judge what his or her child does and eats and why they’re a good parent. Maybe you’ve only seen that kind of divorce in the movies.
Consider yourself fortunate.
The reality is that divorce is an unavoidable part of our world. I’ve worked in family law for more than a decade now. I’ve represented spouses in contested litigation for years and have now helped couples stay out of court entirely for several years. That’s why I can tell you definitively that you can divorce differently.
Divorcing differently doesn’t mean that spouses are best friends, that they want to split everything fairly and move on, or that they agree entirely about how they want to raise their children after they’ve separated. All of this can certainly happen. I’ve seen it. However, divorcing differently means you approach and execute your divorce differently.
At Dasher Law, we practice what is known as collaborative divorce because we collaborate with the “other side” to come to a mutually beneficial resolution. We help spouses essentially work as a team to separate assets and make decisions regarding child support, child custody, and alimony, using our legal expertise to advocate for a fair outcome.
When couples are willing to utilize the collaborative approach, it often saves a significant amount of money in legal fees because attorneys are not filing contested lawsuits, responding to allegations, gathering evidence, crafting trial notes and arguments, and the list goes on. Every time that attorney (or staff member) makes a copy of something, it costs you money!
Our goal is not only to help families come through divorce as financially healthy as possible, but also to help alleviate some of the mental and emotional anguish that comes with an us-against-them approach.
Divorce is hard. But it can be different. If you’re ready to divorce differently, call us and set up a consultation. We’d love to help.
Lindsey Dasher is the Managing Partner at Dasher Law PLLC