A Kinder, Gentler Approach To Ending A Marriage
Divorce often brings images of intense arguments, bitterness and contentious fights. Traditional divorce litigation only increases the likelihood of these outcomes. Litigation can exacerbate the relationship and make cooperation difficult, if not impossible. There is another way for a couple to work together to achieve a mutually agreeable settlement.
Constructive Solutions Through Respect And Thoughtful Problem-Solving
With a collaborative divorce, you take control of your future. This process permits you and your spouse to find constructive ways to dissolve the marriage. Our attorneys at Ostertag O'Leary Barrett & Faulkner feel that collaborative divorce is often superior to traditional litigation as it fosters an atmosphere of respect and problem-solving that is simply not possible when trapped in a court battle. This atmosphere is healthier for you, and it minimizes the impact on your children.
In the collaborative process, you work with a team of professionals who are all dedicated to finding constructive solutions to divorce-related issues. With the help of your attorney, financial specialists, divorce coaches and child specialists, you can use the collaborative process to decide all the issues that arise in divorce, including:
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support and spousal maintenance/alimony
- Property division
Collaborative Law Is Really A Mind Set
When spouses, attorneys and other team members are committed to finding workable solutions, the process is powerful. The commitment to negotiate respectfully is the cornerstone of collaborative divorce. In fact, at the beginning of the process, you, your spouse and your attorneys all sign an agreement pledging to stay out of court. This gives everyone an incentive to communicate openly and work toward long-term solutions.
It is possible to end your marriage the way it started: with both of you reaching an agreement. The collaborative divorce process can help get you there.
Because collaborative divorce is a more recent development, many people are unaware of what is involved in the process. You should think of it as a four-stage event. In the end, the ultimate goal of the process is to reach a settlement that tries to meet the needs of all concerned.
Stage 1 – Taking The Initial Steps
Collaborative divorce uses a team approach designed to let you work with professionals who are specifically trained to handle the issues that must be resolved in your divorce (child custody, support and property division). The initial phase of the collaborative process therefore involves:
- Identifying the team, which includes each spouse’s collaborative attorney, a financial planner, a child specialist (if needed), and one or two divorce coaches (mental health professionals).
- Arranging a meeting with the divorcing couple and their attorneys.
- Signing a collaborative law participation agreement, in which everyone pledges to resolve the divorce out of court. If a settlement cannot be reached, the lawyers must withdraw, and you will have to find new attorneys to represent you. This can provide an incentive to work hard to reach a settlement.
Stage 2 – Gathering Information
The goal is for everyone involved to understand the emotional, financial and behavioral circumstances that make your family unique. It involves:
- Understanding the marital estate, including assets, debts, income and the needs of your children, if you have children
- Learning to listen – to each other and the collaborative professionals
- Open discussions about the needs and desires of the other person
Stage 3 – Creating Options
The collaborative process is about respecting and understanding the interests of both yourself and your spouse. With the help of the divorce coach and the other members of the team, you are empowered to:
- Discuss possible resolutions to child custody, property division and financial packages
- Evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of each proposal in a safe, respectful environment
Stage 4 – Reaching A Resolution
Without going to court, and without the stress and emotional harm caused by a long battle, it is often possible to reach a satisfying resolution more quickly and much more peaceably. This final stage is about:
- Detailing a settlement that meets as many of the needs and desires of each person as possible
- Finalizing the agreement
Reach Out To Our Committed Team
At Ostertag O'Leary Barrett & Faulkner, we believe in the collaborative divorce process, and we believe it can work for the vast majority of couples. By fostering cooperation instead of an adversarial atmosphere, we have found that collaborative divorce allows clients and their children to move forward in life more quickly and in a healthier manner. Call our Poughkeepsie office at 845-330-0650 to schedule your initial consultation with us, or email us here.