Collaborative Divorce In Connecticut
Over the years, collaborative divorce has become more popular. Pop culture often pushes the notion that divorce is always expensive and ugly, mediation is cheaper, and so on. While this may be the case for some divorces, it is not the case for all. Traditional divorce proceedings have other benefits that may more closely fit your situation and protect your individual best interests.
Experienced Connecticut Divorce Representation You Can Trust
No matter which dispute resolution process you ultimately choose, travelling along your divorce path can be difficult and heartbreaking. If you are currently in the midst of a divorce, it can be hard to know what to do or where to turn. When you find yourself in this situation, it is crucial to have an experienced divorce attorney on your side. An experienced divorce attorney will help guide you through the divorce process to help you achieve the best results. Needle | Cuda Divorce and Family Law attorneys understand what is at stake and are ready to represent you.
To learn more about Collaborative Divorce and other divorce resolution methods, or to schedule your initial case consultation, call us at (203) 429-4151 or visit our website today.
What is a Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce involves both clients and lawyers in the negotiation process to ensure a mutual commitment to the divorce proceedings. The purpose of the collaborative divorce process is to resolve divorce proceedings with the goal that both sides maintain a balanced proceeding. The attorneys for both clients will work together to draft settlement terms agreeable to both sides, which will then be submitted to the court for review and approval.
A collaborative divorce is an alternative form of divorce resolution to traditional litigation-based divorce resolution proceedings. Both spouses intending to divorce have their own collaborative divorce attorney to represent them throughout the process.
One of the key differences between divorce litigation and collaborative divorce is that both parties explicitly agree to resolve all issues during collaborative proceedings instead of seeking resolution by court order. The success of collaborative divorce proceedings hinges on several key elements to fulfill its objectives:
- A commitment between both spouses to resolve the issues between them;
- Open and transparent exchange of information to facilitate open negotiations;
- A mutual, signed agreement between both parties not to go to court or litigate. All professionals involved must withdraw from the proceedings if one or both parties choose to litigate even though they have agreed not to. Additionally, any information or product obtained during the collaborative divorce process cannot be used in litigation unless the parties agree that they may;
What is the Collaborative Divorce Process?
Once you and your spouse agree to the collaborative divorce process, there are several steps that you must take to achieve resolution.
Hiring Your Own Attorney
During the collaborative process, attorneys are still necessary to provide representation to each party.
Each Party Agrees Not To Litigate
At the beginning of the process, each party agrees that they will not litigate the divorce, instead opting to resolve divorce issues in the collaborative proceeding between themselves, administrators, and experts.
Each party will meet with their attorney before meeting with the other attorneys in a joint session.
Depending on your particular collaborative divorce proceedings, divorce coaches, financial specialists, child specialists, and others may join to assist. These specialists are called in to facilitate the transparent exchange of information and identify each party’s needs.
Joint Separation Agreement
A joint separation agreement will be drafted and sent to the court if proceedings are successful. Agreement terms will be finalized after the court reviews and accepts the separation agreement.
Benefits of a Collaborative Divorce
Collaborative divorce can have some benefits depending on the unique circumstances of your case. As with all things, collaborative divorce may work for some but not for others. A few benefits may broadly apply when using the collaborative divorce method.
Greater Control Of Proceeding Duration
One benefit of collaborative divorce is that you and your former spouse have more control over the length of time the divorce process takes. Instead of waiting for available court openings, you can choose when to begin the process and have some control over how long it takes. If both parties adhere to their agreements, the process can take less time than going to court and litigating.
Avoid Going To Court
For some, the traditional divorce litigation can be strenuous and anxiety-inducing. In the collaborative divorce process, the negotiation process is private and conducted between you and your former spouse with assistance from lawyers, experts, and other administrators.
Parties Agree To Cooperate
Before proceeding with the collaborative divorce process, each party must agree to cooperate with the other. This requires that each party involved be truthful with one another, act in good faith, and be courteous to facilitate the process.
Disadvantages of a Collaborative Divorce
For the collaborative divorce process to succeed, it relies on several premises that must exist between former spouses: truthfulness, amicability, and cooperation. Without this foundation collaborative divorce cannot be successful.
In a perfect world, everyone would be completely truthful, cooperative, and cordial; in reality, this is simply not the case. We all want complete cooperation amongst all parties in every disagreement to reach a mutually agreeable decision. Unfortunately, not all processes—including divorce—happen that way. In some circumstances, the divorces or separations between couples are amicable. However, this is entirely dependent on the dynamic between each party.
The goal of collaborative divorce is admirable but not always realistic. While the collaborative divorce process has several significant benefits, those benefits are contingent on the relationship between the parties.
At the core of the collaborative divorce process is a simple faith that your former partner has your best interests in mind. The initiating agreements assume that each party will adhere to the deal they made at the beginning of the process. However, whether collaborative or litigation, divorce proceedings can have extensive, long-reaching consequences, especially if something goes wrong. Relying solely on good faith alone, while tempting, leaves you open to negative consequences that you could deal with for the rest of your life.
There are certain misconceptions about the collaborative divorce process. Over time, pop culture has established that collaborative divorce produces amicable results at a fraction of the cost. For some divorces, this is true; the reality, on the other hand, can be quite different. Collaborative divorce proceedings can negatively affect your divorce resolution and recovery. Contrary to popular belief, traditional divorce litigation proceedings are generally amicable, fair, and provide certain benefits that the collaborative divorce process cannot.
Time May Not Be Saved
One of the most often mentioned benefits of collaborative divorce is saving time. The claim is that collaborative divorce saves time by avoiding court delays and giving the parties more control over the timetable of the divorce process. In some circumstances, collaborative divorce may require less time to produce an agreement. On the other hand, if collaborative divorce fails, you must start from the beginning, wasting any time or money you might have saved. Suppose no agreement is reached between you and your spouse during the initial collaborative divorce process. You will be required to start the process over again, possibly with new lawyers, administrators, and assisting experts. However, failure to reach a final divorce settlement with litigation is not an option. The court will decide on disagreements, complexities, or other issues that might arise during the proceedings.
Collaborative Divorce Costs Can Meet Or Exceed Divorce Litigation Costs
Proponents of collaborative divorce suggest that the process is cheaper because the parties share experts and avoid the expensive litigation process. For some, using shared experts and avoiding court can decrease costs. However, for these additional costs to be avoided, each party must mutually agree on the critical aspects of the proceedings and eventual separation agreement. If an agreement is not reached, the process fails, and you are right back where you started. Not only has the operation failed, but you have also invested significant amounts of time and money for nothing.
The professionals overseeing the collaborative divorce process will still require payment for their work. The attorneys each party hired to represent them will want to be paid for their time. Any experts brought in to assist will also require compensation; in the end, you and your former spouse will still bear the costs.
If the process fails, you and your spouse will still have to find some other means of obtaining divorce resolution, whether it is seeking out or starting a new collaborative divorce process or litigating the divorce in court. In addition to spending money on the failed collaborative divorce, you might not even be able to rely on any of the information or headway you made. If the opposing spouse does not agree to let you use that information, you will not be allowed to rely on it in future proceedings or litigation.
If No Agreement Is Reached, Divorce Litigation May Be Required Anyway
Collaborative divorce has gained a reputation for producing a friendly environment between both parties during the process and in resolution. While an admirable goal, that is not always the result. To achieve an amicable situation, both parties must choose to be amicable. Unfortunately, divorce proceedings are often not civil.
It is important to remember that not every divorce is the same. For some, separation occurs without animosity. Some couples have differences that simply cannot be reconciled, but they have no ill will. However, not all separations occur on good terms.
The reasons for separation are countless, with some resulting in substantial negative fallouts. Imagine a situation where infidelity is involved. When one partner has cheated on another in a marriage, the feelings toward one another are far from friendly. These strong negative emotions can be hard to push down or compartmentalize. If the couple cannot reach a situation where they can at least cooperate, collaborative divorce proceedings will fail. On the other hand, divorce litigation always produces a final divorce decree, regardless of how each party feels about one another or whether they agree.
Attorneys Cannot Adequately Advise You
Proponents of collaborative divorce often raise the issue of both parties having representation as a benefit of the process. Both spouses will indeed have representation during the collaborative divorce process; however, this does not guarantee the best outcome for you. In the collaborative divorce process, the main focus is on reaching the end goal: a settlement agreement. The settlement proceedings are only as good as the information that each party provides. You will only have the information you know and receive from your former spouse. Your attorney will be unable to perform other fact-finding operations to help advise you on the best course of action for you. If your partner does not disclose information or the information is not readily available, you could be negotiating at a disadvantage.
Truth Between The Parties Is Not Guaranteed
The collaborative divorce process is only successful if both parties are candid with each other. However, the agreement to be completely transparent in the process is simply that: an agreement. There is no mechanism to ensure that both parties are truthful in the collaborative divorce process. It is especially damaging in these proceedings because the information that each of you provides is likely the only information you will have to make and establish a settlement.
Whether you are amicable with your spouse or not, you have to rely on their word and their word alone. While collaborative divorce administrators might cancel or suspend the proceedings if they realize one or both spouses is not being truthful, they cannot hold either party accountable if they lie. If one or both of you is not truly transparent in the process, one party may be negotiating without all the information. While the process appears truthful and fair, one party may be harmed by purposefully or accidentally withheld information.
In divorce litigation, the parties are before a judge, and their statements are made under oath. Suppose you or your spouse lies while under this oath. You could face perjury charges, a criminal offense. If you determine that your former spouse has lied during the proceedings, you can choose to move forward in a few different ways. You may confront their attorney, advise them that you know the statement is false, and ask that they correct it. If your spouse will not correct the issue and you have proof, your spouse could face perjury charges. While the civil court cannot punish perjury, the judge may forward the case to criminal enforcement. If they do, your spouse could face probation, fines, or even prison time. If the misconduct does not warrant a criminal investigation, they could still be charged with contempt of court, resulting in fines or jail time.
Divorce Litigation versus Collaborative Divorce: Which Method Is Right For You?
When deciding to undergo collaborative divorce or divorce litigation, you must not make that decision without getting the facts. No matter what divorce proceeding you choose, the divorce process can have profound consequences. Even the slightest misstep in your divorce case can result in severe consequences for your livelihood, possessions, or even custody of your children. When the stakes are this high, it is crucial that you leave nothing to chance.
You are in the best position to understand the situation you are in and your relationship with your former spouse. However, it can be easy not to see the complete picture while living it. Having an outside observer with extensive divorce law experience can make all the difference. When you need to make that decision, an experienced attorney can help you choose the best path. In your initial interview, the attorney will ask you to provide more information about your current circumstances, your relationship with your former spouse, and your expectations and goals concerning the divorce process. By relying on this information and their previous experience, a divorce attorney can advise you on the best method for you.
Hiring A Connecticut Collaborative Divorce Attorney
When you need divorce representation in Connecticut, Needle | Cuda Divorce and Family Law attorneys are ready to help. An experienced Needle | Cuda attorney will assist you through the often-complicated divorce process to help you achieve the best possible result. To learn more about the Connecticut divorce process or schedule your initial case consultation, call us at (203) 429-4151 or visit our website today.