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Pros and Cons of Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce is an alternative means of resolving disputes between splitting couples that might otherwise have to be decided at trial. It involves the spouses and their attorneys engaging in amicable negotiation and compromise to create a binding agreement that covers all financial and parenting issues. While this process has attractive features, there are a few cautions to observe.

The chief benefit of collaborative divorce is that it is constructive and nonconfrontational. After the divorce has been filed and the spouses elect the collaborative route, the court case is stayed. The spouses and their divorce attorneys and the parties sign a contract in which they agree to full disclosure of all information pertinent to the divorce. They also commit themselves to using their best efforts to resolve the case without going to trial.

It is also a private forum. Under Michigan law, all discussions among the lawyers, spouses and any other participants are privileged. The collaborative divorce contract requires the parties and their attorneys to maintain confidentiality of all information disclosed.

As another positive aspect, collaborative divorce involves trained experts who assist in the negotiations. An experienced child counselor may visit with the children, assess their needs and preferences and make a report. A financial analyst may examine the couple’s finances with a view towards resolving property, alimony or child support issues.

A successful collaboration, led by experienced divorce attorneys, results in a settlement agreeable to both parties, rather than a divorce judgment that may not be to either party’s liking. The court must approve the settlement for incorporation in the divorce judgment, but the attorneys go to great efforts to create an agreement that will stand up to court scrutiny.

However, there are downsides to collaborative divorce. It can be expensive, depending on how long negotiations take and how much expert assistance is required. Although the parties generally share in the expense, expert fees can be substantial. Attorneys’ fees can also mount. At our firm, we make sure clients are fully apprised of the potential costs of the collaborative divorce process.

Moreover, collaborative divorce is a kind of “make it or break it” proposition. The contract signed at the onset states that if the case does not settle in the collaboration process, the lawyers will withdraw from representing the parties. While this is meant to be an incentive for settlement, it also means the spouses will have to hire new lawyers to litigate the divorce.

At Shatzman & Shatzman, we give our clients the information they need to decide if collaborative divorce would be beneficial to them. We represent residents of Shelby Township and Chesterfield Township in a full range of family law matters. Please call 586-800-3018 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation at our Rochester Hills or St. Clair Shores location.