The term “collaborative divorce” can lead people to imagine an amicable couple sitting in a room and compromising peacefully. So, it’s no wonder that many divorcing couples are concerned that it’s not possible for them. After all, you’re likely seeking divorce because you don’t work well together!
But you don’t need to work well together to have a successful collaborative divorce. That’s because you will both have attorneys to help you reach an agreement.
Using the word “collaborative” to describe the process may be a bit of a misnomer. It is more of a negotiation than a collaboration. The difference is that the two of you (with the guidance of your attorneys) have control over the process. If you cannot come to an agreement, it will have to go to litigation, where a judge will make the decisions for you. Litigation is not only more expensive and time-consuming, but it also usually gives you less control of the situation.
You are in total disagreement on key issues.
I want to be clear: no divorce couple is completely in agreement on the issues during a collaborative divorce. However, there are some situations where the difference is so great that a judge needs to step in.
For example, maybe you believe you are entitled to permanent alimony in the total of half his income, but he believes he doesn’t own you a penny. This is the type of situation that may be hard to negotiate successfully, because the stances are so far apart.
Your spouse is unlikely to act in good faith.
To start the process, you will both have to sign a participation agreement. This agreement states that you will share information and act in good faith.
In most cases, spouses are able to own up to this agreement. They may have some angry or bitter disagreements during the proceedings, but both sides are working to make it happen.
However, there are some situations where one spouse is untrustworthy. If there is a history of manipulation, dishonesty, or substance abuse, then collaborative divorce may not be for you.
Your spouse has a history of domestic abuse, control issues, or anger issues.
These issues can make a successful negotiation difficult. It may even leave you scared to stand up to your spouse, even with your attorney doing the talking for you.
In this situation, it is often best to pursue litigation, where the judge, an unbiased third-party, can make the final decisions. Always share with your divorce attorney if you have any concerns about your safety or the safety of your children and other loved ones.