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collaborative divorce california

Not every divorce has to be messy and stressful. And not every divorce has to go through drawn-out court proceedings. California collaborative law has a process called “collaborative divorce.” Collaborative divorce allows the couple to work out the details of divorce together in a mutually respectful way. Pakpour Banks LLP can help you through this process to avoid stress, reduce conflict, and come to a win-win agreement.

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

A collaborative divorce in California is one where both parties in the marriage decide together to work out an agreement without the court involved. The parties agree to “use their best efforts and to make a good faith attempt to resolve disputes . . . without resorting to adversary judicial intervention.”

You and your spouse know each other better than any attorney or judge. So you should be in control of determining the outcomes for your family.

Navigating financial, custodial, and real estate issues can be complex. You are not expected to do that on your own. Having a divorce lawyer guide you through the legal parts of the process is a way to protect your rights. Cooperation with your spouse and other specialists can make the process more focused on the needs of your family. 

How Does the Collaborative Divorce Process Work?

It’s a misconception that all divorces happen in court before a judge. Most divorces are resolved outside the courtroom through collaborative divorce or meditation. In the collaborative divorce process, you and your spouse work through the issues together with support from professionals like us. 

This is a voluntary process. Both you and your spouse must enter into an agreement that says you are forgoing litigation. 

Seek Attorney Assistance

Each spouse hires a separate dedicated attorney to work with. The attorneys help you each navigate the legal matters involved. They also make sure you both understand your respective rights and responsibilities. 

You each meet with your attorneys to discuss what outcomes you want. The attorneys will often meet together to discuss, mediate, and negotiate agreements. And then both parties will come together to work through the issues. The parties and their attorneys meet frequently together to work toward a settlement.

Enlist Other Professionals

In our practice, we will often team up with other professionals to assist in the process. Our collaborative team may include accountants or financial planners. Such professionals support the couple in understanding their economic situation. They can also help you divide and manage your assets and plan for your independent financial future.

If children are involved, we may seek the help of child custody specialists, child psychologists, or parenting coordinators. These professionals will help you understand how your divorce might impact your children. They may also advise on how to maintain a positive relationship with your soon-to-be ex and how to set up visitation or custody agreements. The aim is to always ensure the best interests of the children.

Additionally, we may use a real estate specialist to determine the best action related to the division of property. We will add other professionals to the team if needed.

Finalize an Agreement

The entire team gives input, shares information, and negotiates until both sides agree. Once the parties sign the agreement, it can be filed with the court, approved, and enforced.

We understand that this can be a difficult time. We will work hard with you to reach fair agreements based on what we discuss. Our goal is to focus on you and your needs in the process.

Why Participate in Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce can be a kinder, gentler approach than fighting out issues in court. Parties who are ready to have open and honest discussions will generally end up with more amicable agreements. These agreements also reflect the true wishes of the parties. This process can be beneficial in the following ways:

  • Cost-effective. Because you are avoiding a lengthy court process and the team’s goal is to resolve the issues quickly, the costs will generally be lower than for a traditional divorce.
  • Less adversarial. With both parties willingly coming together to work through issues with respect, collaborative divorce can preserve relationships and spare you and your family emotional turmoil. The process can promote healthier communication and family dynamics.
  • You are in the driver’s seat. Because you and your spouse are cooperating, you are in control of the information, details, and outcomes instead of a family court judge or other third party.
  • Time saving. Since the attorneys and parties can speak and share information more freely with one another than in litigation, the process can be shorter.
  • Prioritizes child well-being. The emotional health of your children is factored in during this process. You can also show your children that even in difficult circumstances, you and your spouse can communicate with respect.
  • Relies on interdisciplinary professionals. You will benefit from having neutral consultants assist in resolving specific issues outside your knowledge base or that of the attorneys.
  • Confidential. Unlike litigation, which becomes a matter of public record, collaborative divorces are private and confidential.
  • Allows for creative solutions. The parties can come up with creative solutions to their problems because they are not bound by the same rules as a court or judge.

Collaborative divorce is an excellent option if you and your spouse can work together. With support from trained professionals, we can help you find the best solutions for your family.

What Are the Disadvantages of Collaborative Divorce?

The main disadvantage to pursuing a collaborative divorce is that if it’s not working, the case may still have to go to litigation. If the parties cannot agree, either party fails to act in good faith, or the parties determine they are not getting results, the case may need court intervention. This means the parties abandon the collaborative process and start over again in the court system. 

The attorneys hired for a collaborative divorce may only engage in that process. Attorneys must withdraw if the case proceeds to court—leaving the parties back at square one.

While this could be seen as a disadvantage—with the potential of extra costs—it can also be an incentive for the parties to remain committed to the collaborative process. With dedication to the collaborative approach, the parties can reap the benefits without having to start over in court.

How Does Traditional Divorce Compare to Collaborative Divorce?

Traditional divorces often have many court dates and are lengthy, expensive, and emotionally taxing. Traditional divorce might be a good choice if you already know you and your spouse will not agree on certain issues. Litigation works well for couples that have difficulty communicating. The lawyers serve more as negotiators and middlemen between the parties. Although parties can still negotiate and try to reach an agreement, the judge makes the final decision on any matters on which the parties can’t agree.

The main focus of collaborative divorce is cooperation between the parties. The parties communicate and negotiate to make a beneficial agreement outside of court. 

How Much Does a Collaborative Divorce Cost?

In most instances, collaborative divorce is less expensive than traditional divorce litigation. Fewer court dates and attorney back-and-forths can result in lower legal fees. Collaborative divorce lawyers typically charge hourly the same as lawyers in traditional litigation. However, some attorneys may offer flat fees. But the cost of your divorce depends on your individual circumstances.

Some of the factors that may determine the cost of a collaborative divorce include:

  • Complexity—if you have a larger, more complex estate or shared businesses, it may take longer to reach an agreement on property division;
  • Animosity—couples who fight throughout the process may make it longer and more costly; and
  • Number of professionals involved—more specialists or professionals involved may increase the costs.

We aim to make the costs only what they have to be.

Collaborate with Us

While divorce may not be a particularly happy occasion, Pakpour Banks LLP is here to collaborate with you and your spouse to achieve the most mutually beneficial outcome possible. Our certified family law specialist, Brian Pakpour, and the rest of our team believe that reasonable solutions exist at all times and in all cases if individuals can listen to each other and adapt. We will aim for an outcome that is thoughtful, compassionate, fair, and costs only what it needs to. Please contact us to learn more about our approach and how to get started.

Author Photo

Brian enters the family law profession with a refreshing approach to these proceedings: heal families; don’t destroy them. In some cases, this means the family is going to look different than it did before. In other cases, this means a new family is created where there was none before. Either way, individuals should leave family court knowing their voices were heard, and with healthy attitudes about themselves and those they love.

Read More Legal Blogs By Brian Pakpour

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