Understanding the benefits of a collaborative approach to divorce

Collaborative divorce can benefit couples by offering cost savings, less conflict and a better likelihood of an objective, mutually beneficial settlement.

Connecticut has a below-average divorce rate and even ranks as one of the 17 least divorced states based on data collected in 2013, according to Fox News. Still, thousands of people in Shelton and other parts of the state go through this difficult process each year. While many of these couples may opt for a traditional, litigated separation, a growing number are turning to collaborative divorce as an alternative.

The collaborative approach to divorce may not be the optimal choice for every couple, including people whose relationships involve abuse, intimidation or a high level of conflict. However, collaboration is an option that may be worth considering for many modern couples, given the unique advantages that it can offer.

A more amicable separation

The goal of collaborative divorce is to reach a mutually advantageous settlement that both spouses approve of. According to U.S. News, the emphasis during this type of divorce is on cooperation rather than conflict. This can make collaborative divorce an appealing option for spouses who will have continued contact after the divorce due to any of the following factors:

  • Shared parenting responsibilities
  • Child support payments
  • Alimony obligations

Even if both spouses intend to make a clean break after divorce, completing the process with less conflict can help reduce stress and general emotional distress.

Potential cost savings

Collaborative divorce can also be more affordable than a contested divorce. Whereas the average litigated divorce can easily cost more than $15,000, according to U.S. News, collaborative divorces may cost significantly less. This approach may reduce expenses by emphasizing resolution and enabling couples to reach a settlement more quickly than they would in family law court.

Spouses should note, however, that cost savings are contingent on the collaborative approach succeeding. Forbes states that spouses who cannot reach a settlement through collaboration must start the process over completely with the assistance of new attorneys. Therefore, it is important that spouses have effective legal representation during collaboration and make a full good faith effort to reach a settlement.

Personal legal counsel

Unlike mediation, which is another popular alternative to litigation, the collaborative approach to divorce requires each spouse to work with an attorney. This ensures that each spouse has an advocate who understands the spouse's goals and will work to protect the spouse's interests during the divorce process. This, in turn, can reduce the likelihood of one spouse receiving a highly imbalanced or unfavorable settlement.

Advice from experts

Collaborative divorce also gives spouses the opportunity to work with a number of neutral experts, including financial experts and child specialists, to craft a suitable settlement. This can improve the odds of spouses reaching a settlement that financially benefits each person and creating a parenting plan that serves the best interests of their children.

Considering collaborative options

Spouses who are thinking of attempting a collaborative divorce may benefit from consulting with an attorney who has experience in this approach and in other types of divorce. An attorney may be able to advise a person on whether collaboration is advisable and, if so, provide needed guidance and advocacy during this process.