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Divorce does not need to be a highly-contentious or heavily-litigated process. As skilled Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara County Collaborative Divorce attorneys, we are proud to offer our “101 Corridor” clients creative methods for resolving their conflicts. One of the most successful out-of-court options is Collaborative Divorce. 

Collaborative Divorce is an alternative to the traditional adversarial court-focused divorce process. Using an interdisciplinary team approach that promotes civility and respect, Collaborative Divorce empowers clients to develop innovative solutions to their custody, support, and property questions. Collaborative Divorce epitomizes the essence of “Divorce Quarterbacking” in a legally-binding divorce process. 

What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce is a process that provides a couple the support to resolve their divorce issues through the use of an interdisciplinary team of trained divorce professionals and requires a pledge not to go to court. Frequently the term “no-court divorce” is used.

As your Collaborative Divorce lawyers, we quarterback a team consisting of Divorce Coaches and Financial Professionals to provide our clients with educational materials, including a financial report and guidance through complex financial materials. The client then has the tools he or she needs to evaluate settlement options and reach agreements that are in his or her best interests.

Nine Characteristics of a Collaborative Divorce

  1. Collaborative Divorce is a client-centered, non-adversarial process.
  2. It emphasizes a pledge not to go to court.  You can avoid the stress of having to testify and subject your children to court proceedings.
  3. A team-based process—the professionals on your team are available in “real time” when you need them.
  4. Collaborative Team Lawyers remain obligated to provide informed legal consent to his or her client and to explain legal rights and responsibilities.
  5. Collaborative team members may also include divorce coaches, financial professionals, child specialists, and others. The parties engage whatever experts are needed for their particular situation.
  6. Professional team members guide you to evaluate potential solutions but will allow you and your spouse the freedom to decide how to resolve your case.
  7. A Collaborative Divorce emphasizes education and supports both parties in becoming fully informed on all issues from financial planning to parenting.
  8. Allows you to manage time effectively and is typically more cost effective than traditional divorce. Meetings are scheduled with your availability in mind. There is no waiting to get a court date.
  9. It is private and confidential. No personal matters will be revealed in open court.

How Collaborative Divorce Works

The clients, supported by Collaborative Team Lawyers, meet in a series of roundtables with team members to work towards a resolution. Each client may have a coach, typically a mental health professional, who works separately with him or her to help identify the client’s goals and reflect on his or her behaviors that help or hinder reaching a goal. The coach will also help the client find his or her voice and manage the stress and emotions of divorce and prepare clients for meetings.

Is Collaborative Divorce Right for You?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you want to avoid the expense and delay of court-mandated hearings and trials?
  • Do you want to keep details of your private divorce private?
  • Do you want to resolve your divorce in a civil manner and avoid the winner-loser mentality of litigation and all the stress, anger, and bitterness that can go with it?
  • Do you want to have a say in your divorce, rather than hand over decisions to a judge who does not know you, your spouse, or your children?
  • Do you want expert guidance on achieving a mutually satisfactory property settlement?
  • Do you want expert guidance on developing a parenting plan?
  • Do you prefer to be supported by a team of experts whom you hire only when you need them?

If you align with these objectives, then you may be a candidate for this divorce process.

Cooperative Divorce or Lawyer-to-Lawyer Negotiation Process

Another option exists for those clients who wish to keep their divorce process out of court while choosing not to disqualify their Collaborative Team Lawyers in case the settlement falls apart. This option is sometimes called a “Cooperative Divorce” or a lawyer-to-lawyer negotiation.

In a Cooperative or Lawyer-to Lawyer Negotiated Divorce, the parties express a commitment to keep the matter out of court but realize they may not want to start all over again with trial lawyers and opt to reserve the right to keep the lawyers on board in case they need to go to Court. This is not a Collaborative model since the attorneys may not be incentivized to settle the case, knowing that the courthouse is available and additional fees could be generated if the matter goes to trial. If you are not certain which process is the best fit for you, please call us to explore further.

Quarterbacking Your Collaborative or Cooperative Divorce

In both Collaborative and Cooperative Divorces, ZFLG serves our clients as their “Divorce Quarterback.™” We help you assemble a team of professionals who will holistically assess your case and guide you through the process. We endeavor to keep our clients out of court – whenever possible – and specialize in creating custom settlements designed to help you move forward to a good life after divorce.

Contact a Knowledgeable Collaborative Divorce Attorney

This information is provided for general educational purposes only. It is not intended as specific legal advice for any particular case.

For more specific information, please contact Zonder Family Law Group for a consultation.  If you are in Santa Barbara or Ventura County, call(805) 777-7740.  If you are in Los Angeles County, call 818-877-0001. ZFLG is deeply committed to helping clients resolve the conflicts that arise in the course of the divorce.

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