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While collaborative divorce is often touted as the peaceful way to get divorced, many couples that attempt collaborative divorce are making bad business decisions. At the end of the day, a marriage is a domestic partnership agreement, and like any contract or agreement, courts provide the best venue and an established framework for individuals to dissolve partnerships that do not work out.
Below are 5 reasons why you shouldn't fall into the trap of using the collaborative divorce process (or at least think twice about agreeing to try it).
1. Regular Divorce Proceeding Can Be Civil
People are often disillusioned into thinking that a regular divorce will be less civil than a collaborative divorce. Even the name suggests that the process will be peaceful and filled with constructive ideas and working together.
However, the truth of the matter is that if individuals want a peaceful, non-combative divorce, they can do so using the regular process. Parties will always be free to fashion their own out of court agreements and file uncontested divorces. There is no requirement to commit to the collaborative process, as everything available in the collaborative process is available in a standard divorce.
2. Remember: You're Getting Divorced for a Reason
Just because a couple opts for a collaborative divorce does not guarantee a peaceful divorce process. Typically, couples get divorced because they have problems that they cannot work out between themselves. Adding a couple lawyers, a few experts and a mediator might just add fuel to the fire.
There may be issues with communication, personalities, values, and hurt feelings that can make the collaborative process absolutely useless. If your soon-to-be former spouse is a bully, or cheater, or if their attorney is, having the court system can keep them in check.
3. Less Opportunity to Investigate the Truth
In the collaborative process, independent third parties, such as accountants or custody specialists, are often hired to assist with developing a plan. However, these parties can only work with the information they are provided. Because the collaborative process happens outside of court, there may be less opportunity to contest facts that are being presented or omitted. As such, one party may be able to hide assets or misrepresent/spin the facts.
4. Tying Your Lawyer's Hands
When a divorcing couple opts to use collaborative divorce, they each hire their own attorneys who agree to not file in court until a full agreement is reached on everything at issue in the divorce. Basically, you're hiring an attorney that cannot advocate for you in court. As such, if the collaborative process does not work out, you will have to hire a new attorney that may need to start over from scratch.
5. Collaborating Can End Up Costing More
The collaborative process generally culminates in a mediation session or two if the parties are having difficulty reaching an agreement on their own. Before the mediation occurs, experts will have been hired, attorney meetings will have been had, money will have been spent on attorney fees and those experts, and mediators usually demand payment before the mediation session even starts. Experts, mediators, and attorneys are not cheap. And if the mediation does not work out, you can be out quite a bit of money, and then have to shell out more money for a new attorney and potentially new experts even.
While collaborative divorce does work just fine for many divorces, it should be looked at skeptically as it can potentially be a waste of time, money, and resources.