“Top 3 Differences Between A Collaborative Divorce And A Traditional Divorce” by OLDER LUNDY

December 7, 2021

What are the top 3 differences you should know between a traditional and collaborative divorce?

Read attorney Kim Hamill’s recent article in the Tampa Bay Business Journal to learn more.

What is collaborative divorce? How does it differ from the traditional divorce process? Do I have any other options? These are common questions asked of prospective clients as they attempt to determine the best path to navigating the dissolution of their marriage. It’s important to understand these top three differences before you select the best path for your family.

1. Collaborative divorce is an “out of court” dispute resolution process, whereas a more “traditional divorce” process may involve more court intervention.

What is collaborative divorce? Collaborative divorce is a unique process that allows parties to resolve the issues related to their marriage with the assistance of a collaboratively trained “team.” The team includes each party’s attorney, a neutral financial professional and a neutral mental health professional. The team works together over a series of meetings with specific agendas to reach the goals of the parties. Because the collaborative process occurs outside of the court system, your personal information and finances remain almost entirely confidential.

What is the “traditional divorce” process? Other than a collaborative divorce, almost every dissolution of marriage action will begin with the filing of a simple petition for dissolution of marriage. The filing of a petition initiates certain deadlines within the court, much of which can cause immediate stress to the parties involved in the process. Thus, in my initial consultations with clients, I always stress the fact that even though we may be proceeding with a more traditional divorce process, we have options.

What are those options?

  • Amicably resolving your marital issues with your spouse directly and with the advice of counsel.
  • Attending mediation with your counsel and a certified mediator to negotiate a resolution.
  • Obtaining the assistance of a parent coordinator to confidentially address the issues concerning your child(ren) and develop a parenting plan.
  • Using the assistance of a private Guardian ad Litem to address concerns related to your child(ren)’s best interests.
  • Utilizing a trained CPA to assist in the division of your assets and liabilities and development of a financial support structure.

We often utilize a combination of the above options and professionals to tailor the process to the needs of your family, child(ren) and marital issues.

2. Collaborative divorce promotes a “team” and “interest-based” approach, whereas parties within a traditional process may focus on what the law and court says they may be entitled to.

What are your goals? Why are those goals important to you? The collaborative process starts with identifying each party’s goals and interests. For example, one of your goals may be to have financial stability to maintain two similar households for your child(ren). In a collaborative divorce setting, we focus on how to achieve that goal and often times, your spouse shares the same goals as you. Contrastingly, in a litigation setting, one or both spouses may be more focused on what the court can give them. Parties in litigation often want to “win,” but unfortunately, there is rarely a winner in family law litigation.

While we are always prepared to litigate should the need arise, our firm believes that the most satisfying resolution to your divorce is a settlement that you had control of and was formulated without a long, emotionally draining court battle.

3. For certain individuals, collaborative divorce may be unnecessary and more costly than a cooperative approach to the traditional divorce process.

Collaborative divorce is unique and can be extremely beneficial for certain families, but it is not for everyone. As mentioned above, the collaborative team includes each party’s attorney and two additional neutral professionals, all of whom bill at an hourly rate. Due to the options available to us in non-collaborative divorces, the majority of cases settle before the “stranger in the black robe,” i.e. the circuit court judge, makes the final decision.

In determining what process is the best approach for your family, you should consider the following questions:

  • Are you and your spouse aligned with respect to the timesharing schedule for your child(ren)?
  • Do you own a business or have business interests that will need to be valued for purposes of equitably dividing your assets?
  • Has one party been a stay-at-home parent who may need to return to work following the divorce?
  • Do you have sensitive financial information such that the confidentiality of your divorce settlement is critical?

The path you choose is important and may impact the overall cost of the dissolution of your marriage. The Marital & Family law team at Older Lundy Koch & Martino is prepared to discuss these options with you to formulate a strategy for an efficient and cost-effective resolution to your divorce. To set up a consultation with Hamill, contact us today. 

Kim A. Hamill is Board Certified in Marital Family Law. She has been selected by Super Lawyers as a Rising Star from 2017 through 2021 and has received the distinguished Best Lawyers in America recognition. In addition to successfully litigating complex dissolution cases, she is also collaboratively trained to assist clients in resolving their disputes privately.

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