Our top pick: 3 Step Divorce
- For uncontested divorces
- Pay a flat-fee of $299
- Ready-to-file divorce forms
- Court approved forms or your money back
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A collaborative divorce is a newer option in family law. It offers more legal protection than mediation, but is generally more affordable and less time-consuming than a court trial.
Collaborative divorce recruits the help of lawyers specifically trained to manage conflict and negotiate a settlement. Instead of an adversarial environment where one spouse comes out the winner and the other the loser, collaborative lawyers try to reach “win-win” settlements.
If you and your spouse can’t agree on one or more issues, you can always take your case to court, but you’ll need to use a different lawyer and law firm. That way, it’s in your lawyer’s best interests to try to reach a peaceful settlement rather than dragging it out in the courtroom.
A participation agreement (PA) is a signed agreement where you and your spouse commit to settling the divorce outside of court. In other words, you agree to work in good faith to pursue a settlement that works best for everyone.
The agreement also usually states that both parties must agree on neutral experts, such as financial counselors or mental health professionals, if needed. And everyone agrees that if the collaborative divorce process breaks down, the divorcing couple must use new attorneys if the case is moved to family court.
A collaborative divorce will likely run you over $10,000, according to a 2019 Martindale-Nolo Research survey. While it’s not as affordable as a DIY divorce, it’s still more affordable than litigation, which costs over $20,000, on average. But how much you pay comes down to your lawyer’s hourly fee, the number of third-party experts called and how many issues you need to resolve.
In a collaborative divorce, each spouse and their lawyer first meet privately to prepare. Then, all four parties meet and hash out the nitty-gritty details of each issue. Once you’ve reached an agreement, the lawyers will draft out the necessary legal forms.
Here’s an overview of what happens in a collaborative divorce:
Yes. Instead of in-person meetings, an online divorce service that specializes in collaborative divorce uses virtual meetings. If you need to speak to your attorney privately, you’ll separate into another video conference to confer.
Once you’ve reached an agreement, the lawyers will draft up the legal docs. Depending on where you live, you may be able to sign and notarize the legal forms online. And many online divorce services will then file the divorce papers on your behalf.
Find an online divorce service that best fits your needs.
Here are a few benefits of opting for collaborative divorce:
Beware of the following limitations of collaborative divorce:
You and your spouse might want to consider collaborative divorce if you:
Collaborative divorce is an alternative to a court trial, but still allows you to consult an attorney to reach an amicable settlement. But if the process fails, you might end up going to trial after all.
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