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Collaborative divorce: An oxymoron?

There is a new type of divorce trending, and it appears to be self-contradictory. Collaborative divorce is the name given to a petition for the dissolution of a marriage that is filed in court with a statement there will be no mediators or depositions. These time-consuming processes can tie up courts and put private information out for public viewing. Upon fair settlement, the decree is signed by a judge.

The process was developed about 13 years ago by an attorney who got fed up with vicious divorce cases and did something about it. In cases of honest and respectful parties who commit to being forthright in their proceedings regarding assets and debts, it seems to work very well. If both parties can meet out of court with their attorneys, they can save a lot of time and money.

Not all divorces have to get nasty and expensive, as evidenced by the dozens of collaborative divorces sprouting up across the country. As the word spreads, more and more attorneys are being trained in collaborative divorce, and more couples are asking for it.

Legal representatives for the process call it a more dignified approach, as well as private one, a big plus for business owners who are reticent about advertising their financial affairs. Naysayers claim it detracts from loyalty towards clients and add that if people fight when they are married, chances are they will fight while getting divorced.

Collaborative divorce can be a win/win situation for both spouses looking for customized dissolutions. For example, in one case, the husband and wife switched houses every two weeks so as not to disrupt the children in custodial visits.

Many clients are satisfied because the financial process is done through a neutral group of analysts who have nothing to gain from division of assets or settlements. One client cautions that if revenge is your cup of tea, collaborative divorce is not a good idea. A famous celebrity split that relied on collaborative divorce took place in 2008 when Robin Williams split from his spouse of almost 20 years. The tabloids were disappointed when the split remained amicable.

If you favor walking away with dignity in your split from a spouse, a collaborative divorce may be a viable solution. Your secrets remain safe, and you don't suffer the detestable loathing for each other that sometimes follows.

Source: courier-journal.com, "Collaborative divorces keep separation details secret" Andrew Wolfson, Dec. 15, 2013

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