Collaborative Law: An Alternative to Litigation
A trial that puts your personal life on display is not the only option for dissolving your marriage. In Indiana, it is possible to complete the divorce process without entering a courtroom. Often times, removing the necessity of court intervention also reduces the cost of the process and keeps emotions at a more manageable level.
Collaborative Law is one way to stay out of the courtroom. Some divorce clients will say everything is amicable and there should be no issues with the division of assets and child-related issues. In the alternative, many cases begin as a result of a serious conflict in the marriage and assumptions may be made that there will not be any possibility of an agreement and court will be the only option. If you choose the option of Collaborative Law, you and your spouse would both sign an agreement for the process. A key component of the agreement is the commitment to stay out of court. In the event one of you decides to request court intervention, the Collaborative process must be discontinued and any professionals involved would also be required to exit the case. That caveat is a big incentive to continue working towards a resolution through any impasse.
At the beginning of each Collaborative case, the involved parties are informed of the ground rules for the process. Respect is an important component of progress. The parties are to attack the problems and issues at hand without attacking each other. Neither party can interrupt the other as every person has an opportunity to discuss their points of view. While the process can address the root causes of the divorce (infidelity, financial issues, dissipation of assets, addiction, etc.) more readily and directly than the courtroom, the parties cannot play the blame game. Everyone is encouraged to use first names appropriately and make constructive suggestions to problems. It is also important that everyone makes the process a priority, prepare for each meeting and be patient with reasonable delays.
One of the most appealing aspects of Collaborative Law is that it puts the parties, those getting the divorce, in charge of the process. With the help of your Collaboratively trained counsel, you will determine the timeline for the process, the topics to be discussed at each meeting, the involvement of additional professionals (such as child specialists and financial planners or analysts), and, the terms of the divorce. Collaborative divorce cases typically involve a series of meetings where all parties, counsel and chosen professions, discuss the agenda items and resolve the pending issues. Unless there are concerns for the safety of either party due to abuse in the marriage, Collaborative Law could be a good alternative for most cases, including cases with property issues or custody disputes.
The number of meeting sessions needed varies with each case and depends quite a bit on the individual fact scenario, the duration of each meeting and the comfort level of both parties in moving forward.
More information about Collaborative Law in Indiana can be found on the webpage for the Central Indiana Association of Collaborative Professionals (“CIACP”) at www.Collaborative-Divorce.Org. If you think Collaborative Law would be a good fit for your situation, you and your spouse will each need an attorney that has completed the required Collaborative Law training. If you or someone you know has a divorce or other family law matter and would like to discuss this option further, Banks & Brower, LLC can assist. Give us a call at (317) 870-0019, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.