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Is a collaborative divorce right for you?

When you hear the word "divorce," most people automatically think of expensive divorce lawyers, endless hours in court arguing about property and alimony, followed by years of custody battles.

Your divorce won't be one of those messy court battles. You and your wife are splitting on reasonably good terms. Both of you have known for some time that your relationship as a married couple was coming to an end.

The kids are out of the house, you've managed to pay off your mortgage and credit cards, and the only thing that really needs to be addressed is the division of the marital property.

Since you and your wife seem to be walking into a fairly straightforward divorce, it should be a rather easy process. But what if the two of you don't agree on everything? And what about filing the proper paperwork in the court?

For people in your situation, collaborative divorce is becoming a more popular option. This process is for couples that agree on most aspects of their divorce but still need guidance on some decisions.

Read below for more information on how collaborative divorce works.

Benefits of collaborative divorce

Divorce lawyers and courtroom battles can be expensive. Collaborative divorces are usually more open and take place in an informal setting. This makes them less expensive. Information is exchanged freely between you, your spouse, and your attorneys.

You have the power to decide how any post-divorce disputes are settled. Collaborative divorce also allows you to negotiate a result that works for you with a judge making decisions for you.

The process

Choosing a collaborative divorce requires that you and your spouse both hire attorneys. Your attorney must understand and be supportive of the mediation process.

You will meet with your attorney privately and let him or her know exactly what you want in the divorce settlement. However, you must remain open to negotiation on some things.

Next, you and your attorney will meet with your wife and her lawyer. These meetings will happen on a regular basis while you work through the details of the divorce settlement. It is possible that you will also involve your accountant or other financial professional in these meetings.

For example, you may need to hire an actuary to value assets such as a retirement plan that must be divided between you and your wife.

The "no court" agreement

When you enter into a collaborative divorce, you, your spouse, and your attorneys must sign an agreement that requires both lawyers to resign from the case if you end up having to settle in court.

Filing divorce papers

Once you have reached a settlement, you can easily file your divorce papers with the court. Since you have gone through the collaborative divorce process, the filing should be simple and uncontested.

Divorce does not always have to be an expensive and ugly court battle. If you and your spouse agree in most matters of the divorce, there are other less expensive options.

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