Collaborative Divorce Basics for The Layman

What if there was a way to divorce that avoided making all your finances public, avoiding going to Court and allowing children some privacy while they adjust?

Would you say, “sign me up?”

Most people would. So, what is this private divorce all about?

Collaborative Divorce

The process has been around since 1990, but until recently it was rather exclusive—only people who knew about its benefits and found attorneys trained in the necessary legal procedures could use it.

Your coworkers and friends probably won’t be aware of the collaborative divorce process. But all divorce lawyers should know about it, since they’re in a position to advise clients who might benefit by using this approach. Whether they do or not is a different story.

Want to know more about this quick, peaceful way to get divorced that will likely cost you less than preparing for a court trial, take less time than litigating your case in front of a judge and jury, and keep the details of your family’s divorce private?

If you want to save money, avoid clogged court calendars and long waits for divorce proceedings, let a judge make decisions about what is best for your family, and expose your children to a lower risk of stress and trauma that will probably affect them well into adulthood, then keep reading.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Collaborative Divorce falls under the broad category of Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”). ADR encompasses a variety of approaches to resolving disputes that fall outside the courtroom.

ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) and Collaborative Divorce are excellent alternatives to traditional divorce. Particularly, ADR has a major advantage over the litigious approach: confidentiality.

Public vs. Private

When you have a courtroom divorce, the details of your marital problems—and those of your spouse’s—are public record and available to anyone who wants to see them.

What kind of information, you ask?

All of your assets will be public. That means everything you own, including real estate and personal property like homes, cars, businesses—even prized collections like art or guns—will all be exposed to the world if you don’t take appropriate measures beforehand.

It means that all of your debts—your credit cards, car loans, mortgage info and other personal accounts (student loans/business loans) will become public record.

Information about your children will be made public. For example, the number of children you have and their initials will appear in a database to which anyone can access freely on the Internet. Their year of birth, school zone and college savings plans (if any) will also be publicly available through this same mechanism as well as others that may arise in future years

If your child is enrolled in a public or private school, the fact will be made known to the general public. If your child has special needs that require accommodation or other attention during his/her educational time at school, this information may also appear on record.

The fact that you or your spouse has addiction problems, or had an affair may be disclosed to the public. If you are self-employed, the details of your business and its finances may be a matter of public record. The list goes on. If you would prefer not to share your family’s personal information with anyone who wants it, collaborative divorce is a great option.

Courtroom Proceedings and Trials

What about courtroom proceedings and trials? Aren’t those private matters?

Unfortunately not. Our courtrooms are open to the public and anyone interested in watching your hearing or trial can come into the courtroom. So, you might ask, how does collaborative divorce keep all of our family details private?

Collaborative divorce happens outside of the courtroom in a private setting; all negotiations and discussions take place in a private office shielded from public view. In collaborative divorce, you will resolve disputes privately. Except in rare circumstances where a judge orders otherwise for public safety or other reasons, your court documents will also remain sealed and not be available to the general public. If you need a team to back you with this concept, look no further than Thompson Law.