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Why collaborative divorce is a viable option

When a couple decides enough is enough and that it's time to officially end their marriage, they are presented with several avenues through which to make this happen.

They could go the route of mediation, in which a neutral third party helps them reach important divorce-related issues, or arbitration, in which a third-party decision maker decides these important divorce-related issues for them.

In addition, they could go the route of traditional divorce litigation, in which they each hire an attorney, and proceed to resolve each and every issue in an adversarial manner.

Still another option is to pursue what is known as collaborative divorce.

If this sounds somewhat unfamiliar, that's because it's a relatively new process in which each spouse hires their own attorney, but rather than duking it out in the courtroom, the two sides come together to resolve issues in what is known as a collaborative framework.  

The collaborative framework essentially consists of the two sides holding a series of meetings -- possibly with various neutral professionals present -- to discuss issues and reach mutually acceptable decisions concerning such important issues as property division, spousal support, child support and, of course, child custody.

What makes the collaborative divorce process typically proceed so smoothly, say experts, is not only the willingness of the divorcing spouses to remain open, honest and constructive, but the willingness of attorneys to help their clients stay out of the courtroom.

Indeed, attorneys in collaborative divorce proceedings typically vow not to pursue litigation and voluntary withdraw from representation in the event that this outcome proves inevitable.

Those who may question the efficacy of collaborative divorce should consider that at least one 2010 survey found that 58 percent of participants resolved their divorce in less than nine months (versus potentially years for divorce litigation), while countless financial advisors agree that it can cost significantly less.

"Working within complete transparency can minimize the legal fees because it makes your expectations realistic," said one expert. "You've removed the unknown, and you're more effective in your negotiations and your use of time because you're not going back and forth.

If you would like to learn more about collaborative divorce or have questions related to the divorce process, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

Source: CNBC, "Collaborative divorce can ease emotional, economic stress," Deborah Nason, May 2, 2014

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