Collaborative Divorce Attorneys in Avon, CT
We tend to think of divorce in terms of differences, disagreements, and emotions like anger or sadness. Divorce is an emotional process, to be sure, and one of the most difficult experiences many people will have. It does not, however, have to be a constant battle over issues like property division or child custody. Imagine what two spouses can achieve when they commit to working out their differences in a process that looks for “win-win” outcomes, with both parties guided by professionals who are also committed to this goal. Collaborative divorce seeks to manage and minimize the stress that divorce inevitably brings. It provides a way for spouses to reach an amicable divorce settlement without the need for the court’s involvement.
What Is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce represents an important “paradigm shift” in how we approach divorce cases. By its very nature, litigation pits two or more people against one another in a “winner takes all” kind of situation. This works fine in many situations, but not always in divorce. Collaborative divorce takes the emphasis away from conflict and places it on client autonomy, openness between the parties, and transparency throughout the process.
Each spouse has their own attorney, but everyone has committed to a process of negotiation and settlement. Collaborative divorce lawyers and their clients agree at the beginning of a case that they will:
- Refrain from going to court or litigating;
- Participate in negotiations aimed at resolving all of the issues in the divorce; and
- Provide all necessary information to their spouse and their spouse’s attorney.
Everyone must sign a written agreement that includes each of these commitments.
Who Is Involved in a Collaborative Divorce in Connecticut?
The core “team” in a collaborative divorce consists of the two spouses and their attorneys. With everyone’s agreement, they may invite others to join the team to further the goal of resolving the divorce amicably. Other team members might include:
- A financial professional to provide guidance on property division and other issues;
- A mental health professional to act as a “coach” during negotiations, helping everyone to keep their emotions under control while facing difficult questions.
Each of these individuals provides neutral assistance, meaning that they do not take sides or advocate for one spouse over the other. Every member of the team must be committed to following collaborative divorce procedures.
How Is Collaborative Divorce Different from Mediation?
Mediation and collaborative divorce have some similarities. They are both geared towards reaching a settlement without the need for litigation.
Although all parties in mediation have the right to attorney representation during the process, it is not required. Many clients choose mediation without an attorney and only use review counsel when an agreement has been reached. In contrast, lawyers are involved at every step of the collaborative divorce process, from the beginning of negotiations to the entry of the divorce judgment.
Collaborative Divorce Process in Connecticut
Each collaborative divorce is unique, but they all consist of a commitment to resolving the divorce without litigation. A typical collaborative case might consist of the following:
- The spouses agree to use collaborative divorce procedures.
- Each spouse retains an attorney.
- Everyone signs an agreement stating that they will use collaborative procedures and will not litigate the case.
- They bring other team members on board, such as a financial professional and a mental health professional.
- They hold a series of meetings to negotiate the terms of the divorce, along with other meetings to address specific concerns.
- They reach a settlement, and the lawyers draft the paperwork.
- The spouses sign the agreement.
- They go to court — the only time they ever need to go to court — to get a judge’s signature on the divorce decree.
What If We Do Not Reach an Agreement?
A dedicated collaborative team will make every possible effort to help you achieve an amicable settlement. Collaborative divorce lawyers are committed to the principle, as stated by former NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz, that “failure is not an option.” If you have concerns about whether your collaborative divorce will lead to an agreement, talk to your attorney before giving up hope.
Is Collaborative Divorce Faster than Other Divorce Cases?
A collaborative divorce is not inherently faster than an adversarial divorce, as it takes as long as the spouses need to reach an agreement. In any type of divorce case, state law provides a 90-day waiting period before a court can finalize a divorce. However, this statutory waiting period can be waived and the court can grant the divorce at any point after the papers have been filed and served.
How Do I Know If This Divorce Process Is Right for Me?
Collaborative divorce is right for spouses who prefer to resolve their differences at a negotiating table instead of a courtroom. You know your own circumstances better than anyone else. Even if you have doubts about whether collaborative divorce would work for you and your spouse, an experienced collaborative divorce attorney can offer you guidance on how to proceed.
Help for Individuals Facing Divorce in Connecticut
The family law attorneys at Lawrence & Jurkiewicz can help you identify if collaborative divorce is right for you. We represent clients in Hartford and Litchfield County who are dealing with difficult issues like divorce. To schedule a confidential consultation to see how we can help you, please contact us today online or at (860) 926-1697.