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Collaborative divorce can save time and money

There are times when a couple simply cannot remain married. The relationship has broken down and cannot be repaired; their careers have pulled them in opposite directions; they disagree on whether to have children or how many children to have. They may remain good friends, but they are no longer life partners.

These are not the couples that cannot be in the same room together. They neither want nor need a fight to protect their own interests. What they do need is a little guidance and support as they work out their differences. This is where collaborative law comes in. In fact, Minnesota was a pioneer in collaborative family law.

Divorces tend to be adversarial in nature. The parties may be angry with or have so little trust for one another that they must work through their lawyers. They cannot agree on property division or child custody and support, so their lawyers work to protect their interests. Their divorce is a lawsuit -- it has to be a lawsuit -- not a parting of the ways.

Collaborative law removes the adversarial element, but make no mistake: This process is not about holding hands and singing Kumbaya. The parties come to the table to work.

There may be six or more people at that table. Each party has an attorney, and at least one financial advisor is present. There may also be mental health professionals or child welfare representatives to help with some of the more emotionally wrought aspects of the divorce.

When the property settlement and custody issues are settled, the attorneys file the agreement with the court. The court is not involved otherwise; the parties never need to go to court.

By eliminating court appearances, the collaborative process keeps costs down. There are none of the usual court fees, and attorneys do not spend their time preparing for trial. For example, rather than spending time and money going back and forth with requests for financial records, the parties promise full disclosure and share their financial records willingly with everyone in the room.

Finally, even if collaborative divorce sounds a little more relaxed, it provides a level of privacy that a trial cannot. Courtrooms are only closed to the public -- and the press -- under certain circumstances that rarely come up.

Source: Millionaire Corner, "The Benefits of Collaborative Divorce," Kent McDill, March 4, 2015

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