Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

1. How do I know if a collaborative divorce will work for my case?

Many cases are designed to work effectively as a collaborative divorce. However, it is important that the case be properly screened by  team members to ensure that the parties receive maximum benefit from the process. As a general rule, the collaborative approach is designed for parties who have a basic sense of trust and respect for one another although they may not agree upon all issues involved in the dissolution of the marriage. It is important that there not be any evidence of domestic violence, a mental health disorder, or ongoing deceit perpetrated by the parties. The collaborative approach is based upon full and fair disclosure of finances and an understanding of the emotional components which are affecting the marriage. Our team is properly trained to assist you in evaluating whether your case would be a proper fit. If the case is not a good fit, the attorneys and other professionals can often still assist you in a traditional litigation format.

2. How much will a collaborative divorce cost?

As a general rule, the more quickly the parties can reach common agreement, the less expensive a divorce process will be. If the parties are seeking only financial assistance from the financial expert, the process can be fairly straight-forward and inexpensive. These parties may just need assistance properly crafting a budget and valuing and separating assets. However, if the parties are generally disputing custodial arrangements and other more complex financial aspects of the divorce, it will involve more input from the collaborative team which can increase the cost. Nevertheless, many collaborative cases are handled for far less than a traditional divorce with conflict. This is because the parties control the length of time the process will last and there is significantly less emphasis on court procedures and more emphasis on creating immediate results for the parties and their family.

3. What happens if I cannot settle my case in a collaborative way?

It would be highly unusual for a case not to resolve during the collaborative process. Both parties become emotionally and financially invested in seeking a final outcome. The parties recognize that they have much more control over the final outcome using the collaborative approach. However, on a rare occasion, the parties must actually file the case in Superior Court because they are unable to fully resolve the case. Yet, often, they may have resolved many of their issues which can then be transferred and used in  the underlying litigation to avoid duplicating the progress that they have made. However, if there are unresolved issues that they wish to submit to a judge to resolve, the parties have already voluntarily agreed during the collaborative process that they will employ  separate litigation attorneys to handle those matters and  to finalize their divorce. This unique feature often dissuades parties from fully abandoning the collaborative process, especially when they have made significant progress on resolving the case. The parties are also free to mediate their case to final conclusion. In every instance, the collaborative team is fully committed to the parties and seeing the case to final resolution and they have years of experience to provide the best advice and creative approaches to resolving even the most difficult cases.

4. How quickly can I get divorced using the collaborative approach?

The amount of time it takes to finalize a divorce is directly dependent on the clients involved. The clients set the timetable and limits on resolving the case. In a traditional divorce, the court sets the calendar and time table which can become very frustrating to the parties themselves. Delays associated with the court and attorneys can often make a relatively simple divorce take significant time. However, a collaborative divorce is often streamlined by the parties to address the key issues quickly. With access to the proper resources and by using the financial experts and mental health providers, clients can often narrow the issues and find practical solutions in a reasonable and timely manner.

5. Can I use a collaborative approach if I was originally divorced in a traditional litigation setting?

Yes, parties can decide to use a collaborative approach at any time. Often parties seek the collaborative route after a negative experience from litigation. Many of those are actually amazed at the ease and relaxed setting that the collaborative approach provides. It is rare for parties who experienced a collaborative legal resolution in a matter to seek a litigation strategy later.

6. If my spouse is having an affair, can I still be divorced collaboratively?

If the parties are agreeable to using the collaborative process, then the parties and their children can clearly benefit despite issues of infidelity. The collaborative process is not designed to be punitive or structured to focus on the negative aspects of why the marriage has ultimately dissolved. Like most court proceedings, a resolution for the parties is centered prospectively. In other words, to resolve a case inexpensively and efficiently, it is often important that the parties focus on moving forward rather than on prior infidelities or other problems which plagued the marriage. However, when there is an infidelity, one or both parties are often emotionally hurt and upset. Without an adequate acknowledgment of the impact of this on the family, this can cast a negative tone over the family post-divorce. It is important that parties move beyond the issues of fault, but still respect the feelings of those spouses hurt during the marriage, so that children can make a healthy adjustment to the new family arrangements. The attorneys and mental health specialists can assist the parties in creating reassuring settlement agreements and parenting plans which do not ignore the past issues, but focus on creating a new level of trust and respect for the parties for the long term benefit of the children.

7. What if my spouse is hiding money, how can the collaborative divorce help me?

Generally a collaborative approach is based upon an understanding of mutual disclosure and trust between the parties. Thus, as a general rule, if you truly suspect your spouse is being deceptive about finances or otherwise seeking to unfairly take advantage of you during a divorce, then a collaborative approach may not be the best solution. Our attorneys and financial experts are all trained in collaborative and non-collaborative cases and can work with you even if you choose to take a litigated approach. Call for a consultation today with one of our attorneys or financial specialists for a thorough evaluation of your case.

8. What if my spouse already has an attorney who is a litigation attorney?

As a general rule, for parties to participate in a collaborative divorce, both of the parties’ attorneys should be specifically trained in the collaborative method. Many attorneys deceptively advertise that they are a collaborative attorney when they have not had the requisite experience or training. It is very important that you interview the attorney or specialist to ensure that they have been certified as a collaborative specialist. Thus, if you and your spouse want to utilize the collaborative practice methodology then we recommend that both parties consult with one of our collaborative attorneys to explore the options still available to them.

9. Do I have to use all of the team members during a collaborative divorce?

It is recommended that parties consult with all of the specialists at least one time to fully explore the services that they may need in the divorce. Often parties believe that they do not need a mental health specialist or financial expert only to later on reach an impediment in resolving the case. At that time, the specialists are highly valuable part of the team and can provide significant input to overcome the obstacles to settlement. While there is not a definitive rule about the amount of time or money that needs to be invested in each of these specialists, the collaborative team may consult with you and/or your spouse concerning the necessity of your consultation with all or some of these specialists. However, each case is handled uniquely with regard to the issues that team may face.

10. Is my collaborative divorce legally enforceable?

Yes. Similar to a mediated divorce, a collaborative divorce agreement is legally enforceable. A Collaborative Agreement becomes a legally binding document that courts will likely honor when the parties seek final resolutions. These are similar to contracts. Once the Collaborative Agreement is filed with the Court and incorporated into a Final Divorce or Order, it can be enforced by either party just like any other litigated Settlement Agreement or Order which is also filed with the court.

North Georgia Collaborative Family Law Network

Call Today: 770-291-0813