When should I consider collaborative divorce?

Collaborative divorce FAQs

There isn't one right way to go about divorce. Each divorce is as unique as the marriage that preceded it. A divorce is rarely ideal, of course, but there are ways to help make divorce a process by which there is still room for shared parenting, financial independence, and the willingness and ability to start fresh as newly single.

If a level of amicability is a goal in your divorce, you may be wondering about the benefits and disadvantages, if any, of collaborative divorce. Below are answers to the commonly asked questions regarding collaborative divorce to help you determine if collaborative divorce is right for you.

How is collaborative divorce different?

Collaborative divorce is a way by which the parties to a divorce can agree to the terms of the divorce without judicial intervention. Because each party has a say in the outcome, it is easier for each side to prioritize their main goals and work towards a mutually satisfactory solution.

Collaborative divorce is not "adversarial," meaning that each party isn't arguing before a judge to win the case. Instead, each party to the divorce retains his or her own attorney to represent them throughout negotiations between the two parties. If the parties agree, each side can also hire financial advisors, divorce coaches, and other experts as needed to improve the overall process and help the transition for the whole family.

Read more about the collaborative process here.

When is collaborative divorce appropriate?

Collaborative divorce requires both parties to be willing and able to negotiate. Because each side is represented by his or her own attorney, it does not require the two parties to be experienced negotiators or knowledgeable about legal minutiae, but it does require the ability to have discussions centered around the attainable goals of each party to the divorce.

Collaborative divorce is therefore appropriate for couples who wish to save money (to avoid the cost of litigation), have a relationship post-divorce, or in cases where both parties can agree on a majority of the issues in divorce, such as property division, spousal support, and custody.

Read about the benefits of collaborative divorce here.

When is collaborative divorce not appropriate?

A collaborative divorce requires a certain amount of cooperation and trust. If you feel that your soon-to-be ex may be hiding assets, collaborative divorce might not be appropriate. In situations involving family and domestic abuse, collaborative divorce is not recommended. And if there are simply some issues that are non-negotiable and take priority, a more traditional approach to divorce may be better. For example, if you think your children are better off under your sole custody and your spouse disagrees.

Read about child custody in California here.

Keep in mind that choosing not to pursue collaborative divorce does not necessarily mean you are going to become embroiled in a lengthy and contentious divorce. It just means that the more traditional approach to divorce is right for you, to protect your interests and your family.

I have more questions. Where can I get them?

Because divorce is unique for everyone, there generally are no bright-line rules regarding which approach is best. You may be wondering how you would know if your spouse is not being entirely honest about finances, for example.

At Miller & Associates, our attorneys are experienced mediators and litigators familiar with all aspects of collaborative divorce in California. If you are considering a collaborative divorce, contact our office to discuss your situation and legal options.

Keywords: Collaborative divorce, FAQ, divorce, California, child custody, mediation, litigation