Collaborative divorce in Arizona is a more peaceful method of resolving your divorce (and other family law matters). In collaborative divorce, the parties agreed to forgo litigation and the acrimony that comes with it. Both parties still have attorneys, but they are attorneys who are trained in the collaborative practice who work with other team members to help the parties resolve their disputes. The team members include:
• A coach for each party. A coach supports the party and helps with communication and co-parenting skills. A coach also assists the party in determining their priorities for resolution.
• A joint financial specialist, who helps generate solutions regarding financial issues.
• A child specialist (if the parties have children), who helps determine the best interests of the children.
The parties enter a formal agreement to not litigate the case. If a party changes his/her mind and wants to proceed with traditional litigation, he/she can. However, he/she cannot use anyone from the team in litigation, including his/her attorney. Issues are resolved through group meetings. At the end, one of the attorneys drafts the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage for the other’s review, and the Decree gets submitted to the Court without either party having to actually go to court.
There are many benefits to collaborative divorce. For example:
• You will be able to participate extensively in your own divorce. You have a strong voice and the final word in the outcome of your divorce. In traditional litigation, while you may testify, a lawyer generally talks for you, and a judge decides what is going to happen to your children and your assets.
• It is generally less expensive than traditional litigation. There is no litigation preparation, trials or angry letters and phone calls between attorneys.
• It generally takes less time than litigation, because you hold meetings on your timetable.
• It is generally less stressful –no one is attacking you, and you do not have to testify.
• You learn to work with your soon to be former spouse, which is in the children’s best interests. You are going to be co-parents for the rest of your lives, and it is best to form a cooperative relationship at the beginning.
• Your children’s best interests are considered, through the aid of the child specialist. In traditional litigation, unless the child is interviewed or a custody evaluation is undertaken, the Court will not have unbiased information about your children’s needs.
If you and your spouse want to cooperate to have a fair and peaceful resolution to your marriage, and if you want a team of professionals to guide and support you, then collaborative divorce may be for you.
Alona M. Gottfried is a collaborative attorney and mediator in Arizona. If you have questions about collaborative divorce, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500 or alona(at)sglawaz.com. This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be legal advice. See a legal professional before making legal decisions.
Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC
a Professional Limited Liability Company
8160 E. Butherus Dr., Suite #7
Scottsdale, AZ 85260