Collaborative Divorce – The Growing Trend in Divorces
What is a collaborative divorce?
In Texas, the collaborative divorce process is an option for spouses who are ready to bring their marriage to an end and who are willing to work together to make it happen. In a collaborative divorce, the spouses work together, through and with their respective attorneys, to find a way to come to mutually agreeable settlement terms. They also engage a neutral communications facilitator to assist in running meetings and a neutral financial professional to assist with crafting a financial settlement. If other outside experts are needed to help them make informed decisions, they are hired as necessary, such as hiring a valuation expert to assist with a business valuation.
But, while the collaborative divorce process can offer a variety of benefits, it isn’t appropriate in all cases. So, how can you decide if the collaborative process is right for you?
A Collaborative Divorce Might Be Right for You If . . .
If you are interested in using the collaborative process, you will need to make this decision at the outset of the divorce. There are some preliminary procedures involved, and pursuing a collaborative divorce requires commitment from both spouses.
With this in mind, a collaborative divorce might be right for you if:
You Want to Resolve Your Divorce Amicably
One of the most important—and in many respects, the most important—considerations is your desire to resolve your divorce amicably. If you are not committed to finding a way forward that avoids the need for litigation, the collaborative divorce process might not be right for you.
In a collaborative divorce, both spouses agree in advance to work together in good faith. They commit to keeping their divorce out of court, and they agree that if they go to court, they will each need to hire a new divorce lawyer. At this stage, hiring a new lawyer will have both time costs and financial costs, and this is designed to serve as a deterrent to abandoning the spouses’ collaborative efforts.
You and Your Spouse are (At Least Generally) on the Same Page
Since both spouses need to be equally committed, it is important for both spouses to be on the same page. This doesn’t mean that they need to be in complete agreement on all aspects of their divorce (if they were, they wouldn’t need the collaborative process), but it does mean that they need to share a common interest in avoiding divorce litigation.
You Have Assets
The collaborative process is often used as a means to resolve divorces that involve significant assets and/or income. Simply put, the larger your marital estate, the more issues you have to consider during your divorce. Through the collaborative divorce process, both spouses can ensure that they have an accurate understanding of the value of their real estate and personal property, such as bank accounts, and they can formulate a property distribution strategy that addresses their respective priorities while avoiding any unnecessary adverse tax consequences.
You Have Complex Assets Such as a Private Business or Real Estate Portfolio
The collaborative divorce process is also especially useful when dealing with complex assets such as privately-held businesses and large real estate portfolios. Along with valuing these assets, it will also be necessary to determine each spouse’s community property interest, and it will be important to make sure that the decisions made during the divorce process do not invite post-divorce disputes. While it will often make sense for divorcing spouses to part ways completely, there are circumstances in which it may make sense for both spouses to remain involved in their business or investment endeavors.
Your Privacy is Important to You
Pursuing a collaborative divorce is a good option if you want to keep your assets, income and the terms of your divorce private. While resolving your divorce through informal negotiations or mediation can also preserve your privacy, the collaborative process provides the additional protection of deterring litigation. Usually, the desire for privacy will be at least one thing that divorcing spouses have in common, and this mutual desire can help to spur open discussions and good-faith negotiations in many cases.
When Might a Collaborative Divorce Not Be the Best Option?
As we said in the introduction, while the collaborative divorce process affords a variety of benefits in the right circumstances, it isn’t appropriate for all couples. So, when might you not want to consider a collaborative divorce? Generally speaking, a collaborative divorce might not be your best option if:
- Your Divorce is Relatively Simple – While the collaborative process is well-suited to couples who have complex issues to resolve during the divorce process, it might not be worthwhile if your divorce is going to be relatively simple. If you and your spouse can resolve the issues in your divorce through private negotiation sessions and/or mediation, then you may not have a need for the collaborative process.
- You Have a Comprehensive Prenuptial (or Post-Nuptial) Agreement – If you have a comprehensive prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement—and your agreement is legally enforceable—going through the collaborative process might not be necessary. When a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement dictates the distribution of a couple’s property and specifies the amount of alimony (if any) to be paid, this can obviate the need for the collaborative process.
- You and Your Spouse Are At Odds – Finally, if you and your spouse are at odds with no hope of reconciliation, then even agreeing to pursue a collaborative divorce could prove to be too much. While it may still be worth exploring the possibility of using the collaborative process, it is important to know when it is time to move forward with a different option.
Contact Us for More Information
If you would like to know more about the collaborative divorce process in Texas, or if you are interested in pursuing a collaborative divorce, we invite you to contact us for a confidential initial consultation. To schedule an appointment with divorce attorney Christine K. Lincoln in Houston, TX, please call 281-970-9005 or tell us how we can help online today.Share This