If you are considering divorce, there are several different methods that can be used. One way to divorce that has become increasingly popular as a result of the pandemic is collaborative divorce. The collaborative process does not involve going to court or engaging in lengthy and costly litigation. Rather, it is non-adversarial and combines mediation and negotiation techniques while using a tailored team of professionals to help the parties reach the best possible outcome in the case.

Perhaps one of the most beneficial aspects of collaborative divorce is that it can be done from anywhere. Since the process can be carried out using Zoom or similar virtual meeting platforms, from beginning to end, location is not an issue. Instead of having to take the time to travel to an attorney’s office, the entire divorce process can be completed from wherever you are.

How Does the Collaborative Divorce Process Work?

Whether it is done in person or remotely, the collaborative divorce process begins with a decision between spouses to use the process. Livesay Law Office offers pre-divorce consultations for individuals or both people to learn about the process. Both parties must be willing to negotiate and agree that they will not resort to litigation during the collaborative process and they want to reach a settlement agreement that both people can live with. If one of the spouses is not willing to participate or decides they want to go to court, collaborative divorce won’t be successful. The collaborative process has a high rate of success if people are willing and able to do the process.

Next, each party should retain their collaborative divorce attorney. While the attorneys who participate in the collaborative process do not take an adversarial stance, they can negotiate on your behalf and help you communicate your objectives, while focusing on problem-solving. Both the parties and their attorneys must sign a “no-court” agreement. If the collaborative divorce process fails and either of the spouses wishes to proceed to litigation, the attorneys are required to withdraw from the case and new attorneys must be retained for litigation. This provision is the key ingredient that shifts people from a win-lose dynamic to a win-win and problem-solving dynamic because everyone is invested in out-of-court resolution.

Collaborative cases have a higher rate of success than mediation and litigation. Litigation will always get the divorce resolved, sometimes by needing a judge to decide an issue. But is that considered success?

Once the parties have retained their attorneys, a team of professionals can be assembled based on the needs of the parties. There are no specific requirements for which professionals participate — it will depend upon the specific issues that need to be resolved in the case. The team might include a divorce coach to manage the communication, relational, and hot-button issues that arise during the divorce process so they don’t derail the process — and if there are parenting issues that must be resolved, a neutral child specialist may be beneficial.

Additionally, a financial neutral, who is an expert in financial matters may be able to help the parties reach an agreement concerning property and asset division. The neutrals offer cost-effective services for the overall cost of the divorce. While your attorney will always be up to speed on matters with the neutrals, they are not always the right professional to help on a particular matter. Using a professional with the skill set most responsive to the issue is more cost-effective. So additional professionals do not necessarily mean higher costs.

After the terms of the divorce have been negotiated and agreed upon, a settlement agreement will be drafted by the attorneys for both parties to review and sign. It will be submitted to a judge for review. If the judge determines it is fair, they will sign it and issue your judgment of divorce without needing to appear in court.

Collaborative Divorce Allows You to Complete the Process from Anywhere

When Zoom and other online virtual meeting platforms are used, it is not necessary to travel anywhere to use the collaborative divorce process. Although the use of remote technologies in divorce emerged initially to ensure safety and social distancing guidelines were followed during COVID-19, it has become a permanent fixture. Whether you live a distance from your attorney, frequently work out of state, or do not wish to incur the costs of childcare, you can complete the collaborative divorce process from a location that is convenient for you.

By using the collaborative divorce process via Zoom, you can:

  • Resolve your case respectfully — When using a virtual meeting platform, you do not have to be in the same room as your soon-to-be former spouse. This can help to eliminate tension and help ensure your case is resolved with respect and dignity.
  • Participate from virtual meeting platforms anywhere — You are not limited to one particular location when you use the collaborative process via Zoom. You, your spouse, your attorneys, and other professionals can participate from their own locations as long as they have a computer, internet, and a webcam.
  • Save time and money on travel — With the collaborative process and Zoom, you can save money on travel-related expenses and the time it would take to commute to a location.
  • Reduce scheduling conflicts — Since the participants can join the sessions from anywhere, it is easier to coordinate schedules.
  • Have more options for your team of professionals — You are not necessarily limited to local professionals with the remote collaborative divorce process. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to assemble a team that includes professionals who work throughout the state or even the country.
  • Have Privacy — With the collaborative process and Zoom, you have complete privacy with no one asking why they saw you walk into an attorney's office. When you live in a small community, this can be critical to maintaining privacy.

Importantly, when both parties are in the same room, there is the potential for a considerable amount of tension. Even when the parties get along, emotions can still run high. Using virtual meeting platforms during the collaborative process can make it easier for the parties to have open and respectful discussions about contentious issues like parenting time, support, and property division. By taking measures to ensure you keep your divorce low-conflict, you can remain focused on what matters most.

Contact an Experienced Minnesota Collaborative Divorce Attorney

If you are wondering whether the collaborative process is right for you, it’s important to discuss your options with a knowledgeable collaborative divorce attorney. Divorce and family law attorney Louise Livesay has been dedicated to helping clients in the Twin Cities area resolve divorce matters peacefully and respectfully for over two decades. We welcome you to contact us online for a consultation or by calling 651-294-2338.