May 01, 2015 11:00AM
By Audrey A. Jefferis, PA
It may seem counterintuitive to collaborate with your spouse during a divorce. There is so much anger, hurt and disappointment that all-out war seems the only way to get what we want or need. However, those who regularly handle contested divorce cases know that even if the battle is won, there is no real winner in the war.
In a traditional contested divorce, a judge decides matters concerning children, allocation of assets, debts, alimony, child support and even whether one spouse pays the other spouse’s attorney’s fees. Many people who want to "let the judge decide" are disappointed to learn that it is not uncommon to wait a year or more to get in front of a judge. Worse, they often discover that what they’ve been dying to tell the court about the other spouse is not even considered very important by the judge.
In many cases collaborative divorce is a better alternative. Although not easy, it is an approach that minimizes the cost of the divorce process as well as the acrimony that is so common in contested divorces. The collaborative divorce process allows couples to move forward in a healthier way.
Parties enter into a collaborative divorce participation agreement in which they agree to work toward a mutually acceptable settlement of their issues. They each hire lawyers who are trained in collaborative divorce along with neutral financial, mental health or child specialists, if needed. The parties and their attorneys agree to be respectful of each other throughout the process.
Collaborative divorce is most suitable for couples who are mindful of the potential negative impact of a divorce on their finances, emotional health and wellbeing and their future relationship where children are involved. Couples who disagree about the terms of a divorce but agree that they do not want a war are the best candidates.
Audrey A. Jefferis, B.C.S., Esquire specializes in collaborative divorce, with offices at 3060 Alternate 19 North, Suite B6, Palm Harbor, and 8138 Massachusetts Ave., New Port Richey. For more information call 727-845-6174 and visit FloridaFamilyDivorce.com.
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