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Making collaborative divorce work for you

You may be among those for whom divorce is one of the most difficult events you have faced. No matter the circumstances that led to the breakup of your marriage, you now have the unenviable tasks ahead of dividing your property, dealing with custody issues and arguing about financial support.

If you're hoping the process of divorcing will not add to your already heavy heart, you may want to investigate alternatives to the traditional, contentious litigated divorce. Recent trends have followed the realization that divorce does not have to be another battle, and that it is possible to resolve your issues with your spouse in a civil and dignified way through collaboration.

The process

Collaborative divorce is just what it sounds like. You and your spouse work together to reach a settlement that will be as fair as possible. Rather than fighting and escalating your differences in court, you and your spouse bring your issues to a neutral place where you can discuss them and reach an agreeable compromise. Typical collaborative divorces follow these guidelines:

  • You meet privately to establish your goals with a Georgia attorney trained in the collaborative process.
  • You and your attorney gather with your spouse and his or her attorney for your first meeting.
  • The four of you sign an agreement requiring you to find new legal counsel if the divorce must go to court.
  • You meet periodically over the course of weeks or months to discuss the issues in question.
  • You may include the guidance of neutral professionals, such as child advocates or financial experts, to assist with negotiations in these areas.
  • When you reach a settlement, your attorneys present it to a judge for a signature.

The benefits of a successful collaborative divorce are many. You and your spouse are more likely to have a more positive post-divorce relationship, which is especially important if you share children. Collaboration is also less expensive than litigation, and this may reduce the chances that you will be struggling financially in your new single life.

In order for collaboration to work, both of you must agree to give your best efforts to resolving the issues between you. If the negotiations break down and you are unable to reach a reasonable compromise, you will have to begin the litigation process with a new attorney and potentially less amicable feelings between you and your spouse. This is one reason why it is important to approach collaboration in good faith and with honest intentions.

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