The prospect of divorce brings many challenges to couples and families on how to resolve issues regarding children, distribution of assets and debts, and addressing child or spousal support. Sometimes, the parties can resolve these issues themselves resulting in an “uncontested divorce.” Most often, the parties are unable to resolve their disputes and must therefore turn to the legal system for a “traditional” or “contested divorce.” In some cases, litigation may be necessary and the only viable option.
However, in most cases litigation is not in the best interests of the parties. Litigation is stressful, disruptive, expensive, and often toxic. It is harmful to not only the parties but to everyone in the family. In traditional litigation, the parties part ways after the resolution of the matter and have no further contact. In the area of family law, the parties are often required to interact, co-parent, or financially support the other for years after the initial litigation is concluded.
If the parties go through a toxic divorce process, you can expect that toxicity to continue into the post-divorce era negatively affecting the parties and children. This often leads to on-going litigation as the parties seek to enforce or modify the terms of the divorce decree.
Fortunately, there is an alternative method for couples to transition from their marriage to their new lives apart outside of the court system in an amicable and efficient way known as Collaborative Divorce.
In a collaborative divorce, the parties utilize professionals who work together to identify and achieve the goals of the family. The goal is not about winning against your spouse in court. Rather, the collaborative process recognizes that that parties have a shared problem and then focuses on solving the problem. How is this accomplished?
First, the parties must elect to forgo litigation and commit to the collaborative process via a Collaborative Participation Agreement in which they agree to work together aided by their respective attorneys, a neutral facilitator, and often a neutral financial professional.
Through a series of team meetings, the parties find their own solutions to the problems raised by the end of their marriage. The process places the parties in control utilizing the assistance of their collaborative team of professionals in making every decision together.
As such, the parties decide how to handle their money, their children, and other important aspects of their lives. In traditional litigation, there is always uncertainty in the outcome. In addition to the stress and cost of litigation, its win-lose style often leaves both parties unsatisfied and with many problems unresolved.
There are many upsides to the collaborative process including efficiency, privacy, self- governance, transparency, and cost-savings. Most importantly, the collaborative process allows you to move beyond argument and onto solutions crafted for the unique needs of the parties.
If the unfortunate specter of divorce arises in your marriage, seek out a collaborative divorce professional to learn whether this alternative method is right for your family.
Galen M. Novotny, Shareholder & Attorney
Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon
*Note from Local Pulse Editor: Galen M. Novotny is a part of our Community Voices series. Community Voices is a group of Pensacola dwellers that are making a difference in our city by sharing best practices, experiences, their perspective on impactful subjects, and contributing expertise that leads to movement forward for a stronger community.