New Mexico Collaborative Divorce
WHAT IS COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE?
Collaborative divorce is a specialized divorce process that is completely controlled by the parties and their attorneys. The best way to think about it is that it is like building a container around your divorce process, and everything happens within that container, according to your agreements.
Depending on your jurisdiction, a collaborative case may or may not begin with the filing of your divorce case. From there, there will normally be an initial four way meeting with the attorneys and the parties. At this meeting, the parties identify the major issues in the cases, potential challenges, how to deal with discovery, and attempt to lay out a structure for their divorce.
The parties also build a team of qualified professionals, depending on the unique needs of their case, that help them navigate their divorce, make informed decisions, and ultimately resolve their divorce case in a more efficient, and less emotionally draining manner.
When done correctly, collaborative divorce can be one of the best options you have for your divorce.
BUILDING A COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE TEAM
In order to adequately address the parties’ financial and emotional needs and goals, a collaborative team is drafted. Depending on the needs of the parties and the particular issues in the divorce, the collaborative divorce team may include the following:
A neutral financial specialist to help the parties in gathering all necessary financial documentation and work with the parties and their lawyers to clearly identify and address the present and future financial implications of possible settlement options.
A neutral child specialist to help the parties develop a thoughtful parenting plan for the children as well as address concerns the children may be having. This mental health professional’s role is not to make decision for the parties but to help them identify current and long-term emotional issues associated with children and the divorce process.
A divorce coach. Usually this role is played by a mental health professional who is concentrated on helping the parties address current emotional concerns and develop the skills necessary to be able to communicate and work together in the future—especially where there are children involved.
IS COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE RIGHT FOR YOUR CASE?
Collaborative divorce is not a good fit for couples that have a high degree of conflict or who cannot communicate. The parties must be able to communicate and cooperate to some degree, and must be interested in a needs based resolution of their divorce case. The parties must also be comfortable resolving their own issues, and be comfortable that a judge is not going to be available to solve their problems or provide rulings in their cases. For most cases, however, collaborative should at least be explored as a first option in your divorce.
THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE
- Advantage: Less Emotional Turmoil – The collaborative divorce process is undoubtedly less emotionally taxing than regular, litigated divorce. This is because it is a far less adversarial process than the normal divorce process. There are no court hearings in which the parties’ are making their allegations public, and while it is still emotionally challenging, in a collaborative divorce, the parties are forced to focus on needs based resolution rather than simply taking extreme positions at the beginning of their cases.
- Advantage: More Control and a Faster Process. Because the parties and their attorneys create the infrastructure for their cases, collaborative divorce takes control away from the courts and judges, and places it firmly in the hands of the parties and their attorneys. Collaborative divorce is also, typically, a much faster process than regular litigated divorce, in which the parties have to wait weeks, and sometimes months to get a hearing and a ruling from the courts.
- Disadvantage: You May Have to Fire Your Attorney – In a collaborative divorce case, if the parties reach an impasse and are forced to return to court, by agreement, the parties MUST fire their attorneys and start the case over with new legal counsel in a litigated divorce case. This policy, which is required in all collaborative divorce cases, incentives the parties and the lawyers to continue to work together to resolve their issues. If this does happen, however (and it does in some cases), then, while not exactly starting over, this will add significant cost to your case
- Neutral: The Cost – One of the goals of collaborative divorce is to obtain your divorce at a lower cost than if you proceeded with litigation. One thing that is important to remember in this regard, however, is that most litigated divorce cases are still resolved through settlement rather than trial. So, while theoretically a collaborative divorce case should cost less than a litigated divorce, this is not always the case. Remember that when you add additional members to your collaborative team, while that can have HUGE advantages in your case, it does add some additional cost to your divorce
HOW TO GET STARTED WITH AN ALBUQUERQUE COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE LAWYER
When you are ready to get more information about collaborative divorce, please call our offices to make an appointment, and tell our staff that you want to meet with one of our collaboratively trained divorce lawyers. You should also discuss this option with your spouse, as he or she will also need to find a collaborative divorce lawyer (we can give you referrals for your spouse as a way for her/him to begin the process as well). You can contact our office at 505-843-7303. We look forward to meeting you!