The first step in facing divorce is to select the best divorce process for you, litigation or Collaboration (Collaborative Divorce).
Usually, it is best to decide on the process before selecting an attorney. Because attorneys are best at “what they do”, going to an attorney before selecting a process is not usually beneficial to you. For example, if you go to a surgery oncologist for advice on how to handle a newly discovered cancer, you will most likely get advice on the best surgery. If you go to a medical oncologist, you will get advice on cancer drugs. The radiology oncologist will give you advice on cancer radiation. It is the same in divorce. Study and select the process before selecting the attorney. Being good at divorce litigation does not qualify an attorney to be a Certified Collaborative Divorce Attorney. Only Collaborative Divorce Certified Attorneys can provide Collaborative Divorce representation.
Litigation assumes and involves confrontation. Confrontation begins when you or your spouse declare, in a public document called a “Complaint for Divorce”, that you are suing him or her for divorce and you want custody of the children (if any) and an equitable share of all property. In this public document, the Plaintiff is the accuser and the defendant is the accused or defender. (In litigation, all proceedings and most documents will be open to and available to the public for viewing and copying.)
In litigation, there are rules, procedures and laws that set out the procedure for divorce litigation, for example, Time Standards.
When considering what process is best for your needs and budget, it is important to understand the effect of Time Standards.
Time Standards establish a list of events that must be addressed. Failure to address an event could result in sanctions. Note, just because the Time Standards order certain events, for example, the completion, filing, and serving of a Financial Statement, experienced litigators know there are other rules that permit parties to skip, delay or get around a Time Standards rule.
Sound confusing? For litigators it is not; for persons representing themselves, it may be the first of many revelations. If you represent yourself, the goal is not to get it all right- that is not going to happen- but to not pay a sanction when you get it wrong.
For those considering cost issues, litigation, by its nature, will require you to pay your attorney for “addressing” a required event. Given the number of “events” in the Time Standards, this can be costly.
In litigation, if you and your spouse cannot resolve your differences, you will have a court trial, where one judge will decide your “divorced” future.
In Collaborative Divorce, you only use the Court System once, when you appear for your uncontested divorce hearing of about five minutes. No Divorce Complaint! No Plaintiff! No Defendant! No Time Standards! No dirty linen washed in public!
Collaborative Divorce is a unique process where you, your spouse, and your own trained and certified Collaborative Attorneys, and “coaches”, work together for, and only for, resolution of all issues.
In Collaborative Divorce, you, your spouse, your lawyers and other Collaborative Team members make up the Collaborative Team. The Team has one goal, the collaborative resolution of all issues without trial or arbitration, or the threat of either.
The Collaborative Team includes coaches who make the process more efficient and usually less expensive. The most common Collaborative Coaches are the Facilitator and the Financial Neutral. Your Facilitator expedites the process by helping you and your spouse precisely identify short and long-term goals. Your Financial Neutral expedites the process by analyzing the unique needs of your family, identifying tax provisions related to those needs and creating realistic plans to preserve family income and property.
Your attorney will be a trained and certified Collaborative Divorce Attorney. (Not all attorneys are Collaboratively Certified.)
Collaborative Divorce is often the least expensive and most efficient approach because court appearances, filings and other litigation requirements are avoided, and because Coaches, who often cost less than litigation attorneys do, perform services that litigation attorneys normally provide.
© 2015 by Attorney Anthony C. Adamopoulos