Is collaborative divorce a kinder, gentler solution for Georgia couples?

For some people, the word "divorce" brings with it mental images of a hotly debated, lengthy court battle wherein two spouses who have grown apart fight about every tiny detail before their marriage finally ends. Luckily, that is rare, and the majority of divorce cases are resolved without protracted litigation. One relatively new legal tool is helping to speed many marital dissolutions along without the animosity typically present in a traditional case: collaborative divorce.

What is a Georgia collaborative divorce?

Simply put, collaborative divorce is a method by which the parties agree to cooperate in order to come to a resolution on contested issues. In that regard, it is similar to mediation, a different and more established alternative dispute resolution method. Both processes are outside of the family court system, are private and involve the parties working together with their attorneys to craft a divorce settlement they can live with.

Whereas mediation involves the parties working together with a single impartial third party (the mediator), collaborative divorce involves an entire panel of experts there to ensure that the couple has the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions about what the future will hold. The need for experts varies depending on the type of unique issues seen in a particular case, but they can be from a range of different disciplines, including:

  • Financial planning
  • Religious figures (like ministers, rabbis, imams, etc.)
  • Psychology/psychiatry
  • Business or asset valuation

How does collaborative divorce work?

Collaborative divorce is, in many ways, the antithesis of traditional divorce litigation. Instead of being an adversarial system where the judge makes decisions on behalf of the couple, collaborative divorce encourages the parties to work together to resolve their own disputes. Collaborative divorce allows the couple to move at their own pace to devise solutions to key divorce-related issues like physical and legal child custody, parenting time/visitation, asset division and alimony/spousal support.

Since the parties remain in control of the collaborative divorce process, they come to mutually agreed-upon decisions that fit into their lives and meet their needs. In addition, collaborative divorce tends to proceed faster and be less expensive than a lengthy court battle.

Some important caveats

One important thing to remember about the collaborative process is that the parties must be able to honestly and openly work together to reach an agreement. If one party hasn't provided full disclosure of financial assets and his or her deception is discovered later on, for example, the process could be for naught, and the couple might end up in court anyway.

In addition, collaborative divorce simply won't succeed if the couple's animosity toward one another cannot be controlled. The the process fundamentally relies upon cooperation, and if emotions get in the way, that cooperation can't happen. Furthermore, because it involves direct contact between the parties, collaborative divorce isn't appropriate for situations involving domestic violence or abuse.

To find out more information about the collaborative divorce process in Georgia, and if it might be a good approach for your divorce, speak with a family law attorney today.

Wir sprechen Deutsch - Se habla Español - Nous parlons français - Hие говорим български - 한국어 상담 가능