Divorce is challenging, but for some couples who are willing to work together, there are alternatives to a litigated divorce. These alternatives offer a way to reach a fair settlement in a more peaceful way, without many of the resentments caused by contesting a divorce in court. One option is collaborative divorce, which pairs legal representation with the same type of settlement negotiation used in mediation.
What is collaborative divorce?
Collaborative divorce allows couples to negotiate a fair settlement in a calm, face-to-face setting with help from their lawyers and other professionals. This allows them to work out a settlement that pleases them both, while avoiding the bad feelings that often accompany litigated divorces and the uncertainty of a judge making decisions for the couple.
This type of alternative dispute resolution focuses on reaching an agreement on all aspects of property division, child custody, and support without relying on a judge unfamiliar with your family to make these decisions. Your Petrelli Previtera Schimmel divorce attorney would serve as an advisor, guiding you through the process.
What are the benefits of collaborative divorce?
While collaborative divorce has a number of benefits, perhaps the greatest benefit is also the most obvious. Like any alternative to a litigated divorce, the goal of this type of settlement negotiation is to help you avoid dragging your children and personal life through court.
There are, however, other benefits of collaborative divorce and other alternative dispute resolution methods as well. These include:
- Decreased cost when compared to a litigated divorce
- A faster and less formal process
- Empowering individuals to work together instead of increasing resentments
- Preventing threats of going to court to force agreements
- Giving the children a quicker resolution
- Preventing both parties from developing an adversarial stance
- Helping the former spouses learn to communicate better
How does the collaborative divorce process work?
The first step in the collaborative divorce process is to enlist the help of an attorney familiar with this type of alternative dispute resolution. Attorney Thomas Petrelli, Jr. is an experienced mediator and can help clients reach a settlement through collaboration.
Both you and your partner will choose attorneys to guide you through this process. You will sit down with your attorneys separately to discuss what you hope to get out of the negotiation.
This process also requires both of you — as well as your attorneys — to sign an agreement saying you do not plan to litigate this divorce. In this agreement, your lawyers must also agree to withdraw from representing you if the case does go to court. This prevents attorneys from using the possibility of court to leverage one partner into an agreement with which he or she is not comfortable.
Once everyone signs the agreements and your lawyer is aware of your needs, your attorneys will schedule a time so all can meet. In this meeting, you will negotiate property division, child custody, support, and other issues. Subsequent meetings are often necessary to reach agreements on all of these topics.
What happens if we cannot reach an agreement?
While many divorcing couples benefit from collaborative divorce, the process does not work for everyone. Former partners who refuse to negotiate or who are already in a highly adversarial position may be unable to reach an agreement through the collaborative divorce process.
Even if you cannot communicate with your partner or cannot imagine a situation where a fair settlement negotiation is possible, as long as both you and your former spouse are willing to try a collaborative divorce, there is hope.
If the negotiations stall, your lawyers may recommend other professionals, such as licensed mediators, child custody specialists, or financial planners, to help.
Remember, if either you or your spouse decides to take your case to litigation, you will both need to find new attorneys.
Can Petrelli Previtera Schimmel help me with my collaborative divorce?
The attorneys at Petrelli Previtera Schimmel will work hard to keep your divorce out of court to save you money, time, and frustration. Give us a call for help with your Pennsylvania or New Jersey divorce case. We want to help you get the best results for you and your family.
Contact us today at 215-523-6900 to set up an appointment.