Divorce is never easy, whether in Kansas or anywhere else. All your hopes for a “happily ever after” life with your spouse are crashing around you, and you, (s)he and your children are upset, stressed and unsure of what the future now holds.
No one enjoys fighting, especially when it comes to such important issues as your own welfare and that of your children. Nevertheless, a traditional litigated divorce usually entails an acrimonious court battle that can take months – and a goodly amount of money – to resolve. Despite whatever differences you and your spouse may have, it is likely that both of you wish there were a better way to end your marriage. There is: a collaborative divorce. It may be just the answer that both of you are looking for.
A collaborative divorce begins in the same way that a traditional divorce does, with you and your spouse both hiring an attorney. Once you do, however, and meet with him or her privately to confide your issues, concerns and fears, your divorce proceeds in a much different manner.
Collaborative divorce goals
Unlike a traditional litigated divorce, the first goal of a collaborative divorce is to give you and your spouse the opportunity to resolve your issues and disputes on your own terms rather than leaving these important decisions up to a judge. The second goal is to allow your respective attorneys to work together cooperatively rather than as adversaries to help you and your spouse divorce in the most amicable, stress-free manner possible.
Collaborative divorce process
If you and your spouse are like most couples, your main issues include the following:
- Child custody, visitation and support
- Possibility and amount of spousal support
- Division of your marital property
- Protection of your family business or professional practice
To resolve these issues, you, your spouse and your respective attorneys hold a series of meetings in which you and your spouse discuss, negotiate and compromise on them in a respectful, cooperative and nonthreatening, out-of-court environment. Your respective attorneys are right there to facilitate these discussions and protect your respective interests. If you wish, you and your spouse can hire neutral professionals, such as a financial advisor, child psychologist, etc., to attend the meetings and provide their input.
The number of meetings all of you will attend depends on the number and complexity of the issues you and your spouse need to resolve, as well as how far apart you are on those issues when the process begins.
Once you and your spouse have resolved all your issues, your attorneys will draft the agreement you arrived at, both of you will sign it, and your attorneys will present it to the judge. It is possible that neither of you will have to go to court yourselves.
Probably the greatest benefit of a collaborative divorce is the effect it has on your children. Instead of watching their parents fight and fearing that they will be caught in the middle and have to take sides, up to and including deciding which parent they want to live with after your divorce, your kids receive an invaluable life lesson on how people can amicably resolve their differences. You and your spouse serve as the best role models your children possibly could have for how to resolve conflicts in their own lives.