A collaborative attorney will guide you through a divorce without undergoing stressful adversarial court litigation. During a collaborative divorce each spouse retains a collaboratively trained team featuring an attorney who is trained to lead the process. The spouses agree to conduct themselves in good faith to reach a mutually beneficial settlement. This is an agreement that is affirmed prior to beginning the collaborative process.
The key to collaborative divorce is a functional and cooperative relationship between attorneys. Each represents their client, but they put in efforts in good faith to bring the best possible outcome for both parties. Unlike litigation, collaborative attorneys do not engage in a court battle leaving emotional havoc behind them. They invest time and effort in caring about the emotional well-being of their clients, protecting them from the psychological effects of divorce. Collaboratively trained attorneys also must work closely with the other members of the team like a financial neutral, a child specialist and mental health practitioners.
Divorce is one of the most emotionally challenging periods for couples and their family.. Knowing that your collaborative attorney works in your best interest, there are questions you can ask them to help you go through divorce intelligently.
1. How can collaborative divorce help me with feelings of sadness, anger, and denial? Collaborative divorce is the only process that recognizes and treats the so-called emotional divorce. Before an official legal procedure begins, the spouses start feeling alienation, loneliness, and dissatisfaction with their marriage. Collaborative lawyers know the psychology of divorce far better than others. They can help both spouses overcome the underlying emotions and continue healthy and fulfilling lives after divorce. Mental health professionals are typically members of each spouse’s collaborative divorce team.
2. Is engaging in a collaborative divorce a sign of weakness? No. The opposite is true. By working with collaborative attorneys, spouses display the highest level of emotional intelligence. Instead of participating in emotionally detrimental combat in court, you and your spouse take responsibility for your and your children’s emotional well-being by working in good faith to resolve disputed issues. Couples seeking privacy, the right to pace the divorce on their own and the right to divorce outside of court makes collaborative divorces an attractive option.
3. Do I need support from family and friends? Yes. Undergoing a divorce is a significant psychological burden, and you need help from loved ones to alleviate stress. But to avoid conflict between friends and relatives on both sides both spouses need to explain that collaborative divorce is about cooperation and constructive dialogue.
4. How do I deal with child custody concerns? Children are always placed first during a collaborative divorce. Worrying about custody and parenting time allocation causes stress and anxiety. Sometimes it can lead to destructiveness and further escalate the conflict between divorcing parents. But collaborative divorce will take that stress away through non-adversarial negotiations. By focusing on the best interest of your children, a collaborative attorney will help you achieve a mutually beneficial solution regarding child-related issues. That approach will protect children from the damaging effects of divorce, too.
5. How about marital property-related stress? Experiencing economic concerns, existential threats, and fear for survival during divorce are normal to some extent. But unlike litigation, where those negative emotions intensify, a collaborative divorce will help you avoid a bad outcome in court. By working with financial experts, collaborative attorneys will help you reach an agreement regarding marital property division and spousal support, so there is no need for stress.
6. I am also concerned with the divorce-related expenses. How can collaborative divorce help me? Resolving disputed divorce issues in court is connected with many costs due to attorney fees, court filing fees, and other administrative expenses. Apart from dealing with essential topics, the spouses spend a significant amount of time worrying about the costs and who will pay them. Collaborative divorce is an out-of-court process. There are no court and administrative expenses, and the attorney fees could be lower than during a conventional, litigated divorce. That allows the spouses to focus on what matters the most.
7. What should I do after divorce? I feel anxiety about living as a single. Conventional divorce methods do not deal with the root causes of divorce. Litigation cannot adequately address the dissatisfaction in the marriage that led to divorce. Many spouses continue living in loneliness without a clear future perspective. Conversely, the main focus of collaborative divorce is treating and curing the causes for separation and helping the former spouses continue living fulfilled lives, explore new perspectives, and engage in new relationships. It is important for each spouse to have a good mental health support system in place so that divorce is not emotionally devastating.
Brigitte Bell is a distinguished Illinois collaboratively trained attorney with a proven record of success in helping spouses navigate through divorce intelligently, preserve their emotional health and carry on to a brighter future. Brigitte is one of the founding members of Collaborative Divorce Illinois the professional association for legal, mental health and financial professionals trained to work through collaborative divorce.