At the Law Offices of Mark S. Knutson, SC, in Wisconsin, we find that more and more of our clients wish to forgo the stress, cost and emotional upheaval so often encountered in a traditional litigated divorce. They prefer to end their marriages in a calmer and more amicable manner. If you are of the same mind, a collaborative divorce may be just the answer you are looking for.
As FindLaw explains, in a collaborative divorce both you and your spouse retain an attorney just as you would do in a litigated divorce. The similarities, however, end here. Your respective attorneys do not view each other as adversaries, nor do they urge you and your spouse to view each other as adversaries. Your attorneys instead encourage the two of you to resolve your differences cooperatively through negotiation while the two of them attend the joint meetings to protect your respective interests.
Prior to the first four-way meeting, you and your spouse each meet privately with your own attorney. At this meeting you share your concerns, fears and goals for your divorce with your attorney. You also discuss areas in which you may be willing to compromise with your spouse.
While each couple’s situation is different, most couples have the following issues:
- Custody and support of your children
- Visitation and/or parenting plan arrangements
- Whether one of you will continue living in the family home, and if so, which one
- Whether one of you needs spousal support from the other, and if so, how much
- The manner in which you will divide your marital property
After these initial private meetings, you, your spouse and your respective attorneys hold a series of out-of-court joint meetings in which you and your spouse negotiate together to resolve all your issues. Should the need arise, you can also include neutral advisors in these meetings such as accountants, financial planners, child psychologists and others.
Benefits and rewards
One of the biggest benefits of a collaborative divorce is that it can cost as much as 40 percent less than a traditional litigated divorce. In addition, the collaborative process is far less stressful and acrimonious than a litigated divorce, making it easier on you, your spouse and your children. Finally, a collaborative divorce gives you and your spouse the opportunity to retain control over your respective lives by making your own agreements as opposed to leaving it up to a judge to resolve your disputes and therefore dictate what your post-divorce lives will look like.