Divorce can be a litigious and emotionally exhausting experience. A potential alternative to a drawn-out divorce case is a Fairfax collaborative divorce. Collaborative divorce is a divorce that utilizes a process that is an alternative to litigating in court. It involves not only the parties and their attorneys but oftentimes can involve other professionals who can contribute to problem-solving and negotiating a cooperative divorce settlement agreement.
If two people want to begin the Fairfax collaborative divorce process, they have to be willing to compromise and negotiate, perhaps, more importantly, they have to be willing to forgo the litigation process during the time of the collaborative divorce, meaning if the case is already pending, they have to put it on hold or withdraw it and they cannot file any court actions related to the divorce while the collaborative divorce is going on. If you are considering a collaborative divorce or wish to know more, get in touch with an experienced divorce attorney who can guide you through the process.
Unique Aspects of Collaborative Divorce
One aspect of the Fairfax collaborative divorce process that is unique is that it can involve non-attorney professionals such as mental health professionals and financial experts to help the parties negotiate a resolution that is ideal for them. In addition to that, the collaborative process is open and the level of confidentiality or strategy between the parties and their lawyers is different than in the litigation process.
The communication process is also different in a couple of ways. There is not the level of secret keeping and confidentially in the process the way that there is in a contested divorce case. In addition to that, depending on where a person is in the collaborative process, there may be certain participants in the process who are involved in some meetings but not all of them, it just depends on what is needed at that time. It could be that the attorney gets together with the mental health professional to talk about how things are progressing emotionally with the parties so the parties would not be present for that.
Lastly, mediation and arbitration do not necessarily have a role, but the collaborative divorce process is rather similar to mediation in that the parties are working with a common goal of reaching a resolution that is palatable to both of them. That being said, mediation and arbitration are separate processes from a collaborative divorce.
Who is involved in the case depends on the needs of the parties. The people who will always be involved are the parties and their respective lawyers. However, depending on the parties’ wishes and needs, there might be a mental health professional involved. That person could coach the parties through difficulties that they have during the negotiation process or the mental health professional could be brought in to address concerns relating to the children, custody, and visitation.
Additionally, there are Fairfax collaborative divorce cases that have involved financial professionals also known as the financial neutral. That person might do analysis relating to the party’s expenses and financial needs. They might do analysis related to tax implications of potential resolution, the idea of the financial professional is to provide financial expertise to both of the parties as they try and resolve their case.
Benefits of Collaborative Divorce
Collaborative divorce allows all relevant parties to control the outcome of their case. They are solving the issues of custody, property division, support, or whatever it may be between them rather than submitting it to a court. The other benefit of the process is if the parties involve other professionals who might be useful in evaluating the party’s circumstances then they get the benefit of having financial advice and mental health support, which ones does not necessarily have in a traditional litigation scenario.
Role of an Attorney
Attorneys who are involved in a collaborative divorce are not allowed to represent the parties in the subsequent litigation. This is a provision or parameter to which the parties agree at the beginning of the collaborative divorce process, which means if they are not able to resolve their case, they will be required to go and find new counsel on both sides before proceeding with litigation.
The role of the attorney in a Fairfax collaborative divorce is to assist their client in identifying what their needs are in terms of a resolution in the case and helping them to reach their needs. There is less advising on the law, particularly in the beginning of the process, by attorneys then there is in a traditional divorce because of the idea that one is helping the parties to find a resolution that works for them regardless of what law may be.