A collaborative divorce can offer real advantages for you and your former spouse, especially if you are still on relatively friendly terms. Understanding the necessary steps in a collaborative divorce can help you prepare for this process more efficiently. Here are some of the key steps involved in the collaborative divorce process.
Hiring an Attorney
Choosing an attorney who specializes in collaborative divorce in California is vital to the success of these arrangements. Your spouse will also need to hire his or her own attorney. This helps ensure that both parties are represented and heard from throughout the process. Retaining separate attorneys also allows you to share personal and confidential information with your own lawyer while maintaining privacy in the legal setting.
Discussing Your Wishes and Expectations
After you have selected an attorney, you will need to sit down for a meeting to discuss your needs and the goals you would like to achieve from the divorce process. If you are seeking custody rights, child support or spousal support, your lawyer will need to know your absolute must-haves and what may be negotiable. This can help you, and your attorney better prepare for future discussions involving your former spouse and his or her attorney. By outlining your hopes and expectations during a consultation with your lawyer, you can create an initial framework that will help you during the later phases of the collaborative process.
Scheduling a Joint Meeting
After you and your former spouse have had a chance to meet individually with your lawyers, it is time to set up a joint meeting to begin the collaboration process. If you are fortunate, you and your former partner may already have reached some points of agreement. In other cases, you each go through an information gathering process to then be better prepared to look at settlement options. Not to worry, though, your attorneys will help you navigate through these legal issues while providing added support for the collaborative process.
Signing an Agreement
After the initial meeting with your spouse and your attorneys, you will be asked to sign an agreement to resolve issues through collaboration and mediation rather than in the courtroom setting. By agreeing to negotiate together to find mutually acceptable solutions, you can demonstrate your commitment to this process and to reaching the best decisions affecting your family. This can help both of you feel more confident during and after your divorce has been finalized. Part of this arrangement also includes a requirement that all parties and attorneys sign a “no court” agreement, which states that if the case proceeds to litigation, all attorneys will withdraw from the case.
Negotiating a Resolution
The negotiation process is usually the most intensive and important part of the collaborative divorce process. During this stage, you may be asked to discuss disputed issues with a licensed mediator to find common ground with your former partner and to identify the best possible solutions for child custody, the division of debts and assets, and any child or spousal support you may be requesting. Depending on the situation, you may also require the services of accounting professionals or child welfare experts to provide you and your spouse with the guidance needed to reach the most positive outcomes.
Filing the Paperwork
When a collaborative divorce agreement is successful, and all the details of your divorce have been decided, your attorneys will file the final papers with the court for their approval.
If changes must be made to a collaborative divorce agreement, you can usually arrange for these adjustments through your attorney without having to go to court or involving a judge. This added degree of flexibility can help you and your former spouse deal with issues quickly and with greater convenience.
If you live in the Fresno, California area and are looking to hire a collaborative divorce attorney, contact the Law Office of Julia Ann Brungess today!