Methods of Divorce Proceedings
There are various methods for how divorce and family proceedings are conducted. Unlike what you see in many tv shows, these proceedings do not have to be adversarial. There are often time moments where a team-based approach and amicable communications between the parties helps lead to the best resolution. There are two general methods of accomplishing this. The first is the Cooperative divorce approach (also known as a “peaceful divorce” or “uncontested divorce,” and the second is the Collaborative Law divorce.
What is a Collaborative Law Divorce?
This is an option for couples who feel as if they are amicable enough to handle their own proceedings but still want a semblance of legal protection. Lawyers and other professionals trained in the Collaborative Law process try to achieve the “win-win” result for both parties and the family. This process is driving by the goals of each party and the common goals for the family. This method uses a team-based approach with the parties, lawyers, and other neutral professionals working together to best meet all of the goals. The Collaborative Law process starts with the parties signing a written, affirmative agreement to stay out of court proceedings and how the Collaborative Law process will be run. As part of the affirmative agreement, the parties, lawyers, and other professionals agree to total transparency and disclosure from both sides. This Collaborative Law process provides privacy for the parties and family as the Court is not involved until it is time to adopt a final agreement regarding the divorce or family law matter. This process usually concludes in approximately 4 to 6 meetings. In Florida, a study has shown that cases used the Collaborative Law process had a 92% success rate for full and final resolution. There are many more aspects, risks, and benefits to this process that should be discussed with a collaboratively-trained lawyer to see if this process is a good fit for you and your family.
So How is a Cooperative Divorce Different?
The main distinction of Cooperative or uncontested divorce and the Collaborative Law divorce is that with the Cooperative divorce there is no written agreement to stay out of court or how the discussions are run. The Cooperative or uncontested divorce is like negotiations at the home kitchen table. Each negotiation is made with the knowledge that the parties can walk away at any time and turn to proceedings in court. In a Cooperative or uncontested divorce, you are seeing a process progress under the courts jurisdiction. Oftentimes, petitions and counterpetitions will still be filed and parties are required to engage in activities with the court such as case management hearings and complying with financial discovery.
However, with the Collaborative Law training that attorneys are receiving, it is not strange to see a Cooperative or uncontested divorce handled very similarly. Collaborative Divorce does not involve the court in any aspect of the resolution process. The Collaborative Law process is party- oriented and driven by the parties’ and family’s goals.