The divorce process can wear on both your emotions and your finances. But not all divorces have to be difficult, and it is possible to resolve your differences in a way that actually saves time and money. When you decide to go through divorce by using the collaborative law approach, you can maintain an element of control over the final decision made, which promotes a sense of cohesiveness and allows parties to emerge from the case without feelings of despair or resentment toward their former spouse. At The Family Law Firm of Donna J. Smeidt in Arlington, TX, we can explain how collaborative divorce works and let you decide if this option is right for you. Ms. Smiedt has been practicing law for over 30 years. With a Texas Board Certification in family law, Ms. Smiedt can help you make sound decisions in these delicate processes that help you achieve outcomes that serve your best interests and those of your children.
What is Collaborative Divorce and How Does It Work?
Collaborative law is a concept that allows litigants to work together to resolve the issues in their case. In a divorce setting, this can be done through mediation or negotiations between the parties. The process does not usually take as long as going through the court system, and the end results are ones both parties agree upon, so there can be a reduced likelihood that a term of the final settlement will not be followed. Couples who participate in collaborative divorce tend to feel less hostility and anger for their ex-spouse, are able to better work together to co-parent, and feel less stress during the process and afterward. There are several steps to engaging in collaborative divorce:
- Each spouse will use their own attorney to negotiate and represent their interests. Even in amicable cases, there is still a need to have a legal professional by your side, so important issues are not overlooked and you are not taken advantage of by the other side. You will sit down with your attorney one on one to discuss your needs and goals.
- Once each side has a clear understanding of what they want in the end, both spouses and their attorneys will meet to discuss the issues. If there are significant assets, it is advisable to have a financial advisor sit in on the negotiations. If you need special concessions made for a child, you may want to invite a child specialist or therapist to your meeting. The parties will discuss how to best resolve the issues, and each side is most likely going to have to make compromises to reach a final resolution.
- If the parties are unable to agree on terms, a mediator can be brought into the mix to help facilitate an agreement.
- As soon as a final settlement is reached, both spouses sign an agreement and that agreement is filed along with divorce papers. The agreement acts as the final terms between the parties, and each party is bound by those terms.
Collaborative law is a unique way to handle a divorce proceeding. The intent is to maintain civility while sifting through the complex issues surrounding divorce.
Benefits Of Collaborative Divorce
Along with strengthening communication skills, collaborative divorce provides these valuable benefits:
- A less hostile environment during the case. With collaborative divorce, the parties work together to come up with solutions that make sense for everyone. In this way, deciding to use the concept of collaborative law for your divorce helps to reduce feelings of resentment and hostility.
- The costs are lower when you remove the element of the courthouse from your case.
- The collaborative divorce system is not subject to the court’s docket, making the time it takes to finalize a divorce shorter when you opt for this method of resolution.
- Because the parties know what they want going into the process, and because each side takes an active role in negotiating, couples who use collaborative divorce remain more in control of the final outcome than those who rely on the court to make these important decisions.
Each case is unique and is decided according to its facts. We can help by going over your goals with you, and then developing a plan to help you reach those goals through effective negotiation during the collaborative process.
What Issues Are Decided in Collaborative Divorce?
Some people are hesitant to forego having the court hear their case out of concern that all issues will not be addressed. However, in collaborative divorce, the same issues are resolved as in traditional divorce, such as:
- Child support: The amount of financial support one spouse must pay to the other in order to allow the children to maintain a certain quality of life.
- Custody: Determining with whom the children will live. This can be granted in terms of sole custody or joint custody (shared between parents).
- Visitation: A schedule that allows both parents to spend time with the children.
- Division of assets and other property: Agreeing upon which assets belong to which party.
- Distribution of debt: Determining which party is responsible for specific debts owed to various institutions prior to the divorce.
- Alimony: Financial support that one spouse must pay the other following the divorce.
Donna J. Smiedt has been practicing law since 1986 and has been a board-certified family law attorney with the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1991. Ms. Smiedt has helped many clients through difficult matters of family law and can make sure your case is completely resolved through either the collaborative process or traditional methods.
Contact Us For Help
Let us help you today. We can be reached online, or by calling (817) 539-6577. We provide the support you need during divorce and other complicated matters of family law in order to protect your family's best interests. You can depend on us to carefully review the facts of your case in order to determine if collaborative law is the best approach, or if a traditional approach would result in a better outcome. The value of having a legal advocate in either scenario cannot be overstated. Let Donna Smiedt help you navigate this process in a way that achieves timely resolution and helps you enter a prosperous new chapter in your life.