Why Choose a Collaborative Divorce? What do you want your life to look like after your divorce? You might want to take a few minutes to write out som

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Why Choose a Collaborative Divorce?

What do you want your life to look like after your divorce? You might want to take a few minutes to write out some thoughts. If you do not have absolute clarity, identify what you know, and take notes about where you are still uncertain. The goals you set for your divorce can guide your decision-making process as you take the first steps. Here are some important questions to ask yourself as you embark on this process: Will I hire a lawyer? If so, how will I decide if that person is the right lawyer for me? If children are involved, what arrangement will benefit them the most? Where will I live?
Another question that will have a big impact on your experience is whether or not you will choose a collaborative divorce. At Stamatelos & Tollakson, we are enthusiastic advocates for the collaborative process, and here are some of the reasons why:

Better Outcomes

This is the single-most important reason to consider the collaborative process. In a collaborative divorce, the divorcing parties work together with their attorneys to craft a customized solution that is specific to their individual lives. The parties and their lawyers all consider themselves part of a team whose mission is to set the table for everyone to have a thriving life post-divorce. The team will always include the couple and their attorneys, and can also include various other professionals who can provide their insight and recommendations. This might be a financial planner, a child psychologist, a marriage counselor, a realtor, or any other ally who can help guide the process.
In traditional, litigated divorces, however, each spouse hires a lawyer to push back against the other side. As in collaborative divorce, these cases are often resolved through settlement, but the parties are positioned as adversaries, and agreements are reached begrudgingly. Rather than building a plan that everyone can support, parties think mostly about themselves, and they may agree to a compromise that they cannot or will not abide by once the dust settles.
Traditional cases can also go to trial. This means each brings a lawyer in front of the judge and works to build themselves up while tearing down the other person. All the dirty laundry gets aired out in open court, and ultimately, a complete stranger (the judge) makes the plan. The judge tells the parties who gets what money, who keeps the house, and where the kids spend their Saturdays. Of course, the judge will work to consider the unique circumstances of each family and aim to customize the ruling to fit their lives. But nobody can understand the needs of a family better than the family members. If the divorcing couple drive the process and determine the outcome on their own with a positive outlook, they are much more likely to like the terms of the agreement, and they are more likely to keep their agreement.

Lower Cost

The collaborative process can eliminate much of the cost of litigating a divorce. By choosing to work together, a couple can avoid paying excessive attorney fees, expert witness charges, and other costs like paying the court reporter for depositions. The parties meet with their attorneys to set the course for the process. Then it is up to the parties, themselves. Instead of paying two lawyers to have a tug-of-war over each sticky issue, they can work it out themselves at the kitchen table. Then, after the parties have done their best to reach agreements on everything they can, they can come back to visit with the whole team and seek the help of the lawyers who can recommend different creative solutions, including potentially asking another professional. But even if a professional is involved, it can be cheaper to do within a collaborative divorce. Instead of hiring two experts, one for each side, to argue over how much the house is worth, for example, the parties can agree to hire one expert and use their appraisal as the value. This is not to say that the total cost of every collaborative divorce is lower than the total cost of every traditional divorce. Even a collaborative divorce can have bumps in the road. But when the parties set the intention to work together and be reasonable and flexible with each other, it can go a long way in making the whole process quick and affordable.

Peace of Mind

Collaborative divorce can bring out the best in people. Choosing to approach the process with integrity and good faith can go a long way in helping a couple to process the inevitable emotions that come along with splitting up a marriage. Nobody enjoys divorce. Even when one person is 100% certain the divorce needs to happen and it is time to move on, the process itself is difficult. Collaborative divorce means aiming high. Instead of diving into a toxic cauldron of spite, blame, anger, and selfishness, it is an invitation to consider divorce as a project that calls for grace, dignity, and good faith. And instead of taking the wounded members of a diverging family into battle, opening old wounds and creating new ones, it can be a process of healing, designed to launch everyone involved into the next chapter of their lives, poised to thrive.

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