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As you approach divorce, you are perhaps focusing on the conflicts that brought you and your spouse to this point. You may worry about how you will re-establish yourself as a single adult. There are many natural concerns to keep in mind, including financial and practical matters.
The legal aspects of divorce — documents, laws and a family law court — can seem overwhelming on top of all the other life changes. However, remember that the end goal of the legal processes is a divorce decree that will make sense. This understanding can serve as a framework for dispute resolution leading in that direction.
Constructive, mutually beneficial problem-solving is at the heart of collaborative divorce.
Typically, in a collaborative context, you and your husband or wife will agree to arrive at the terms of your California divorce together, with your lawyers assisting and representing you. You and your lawyer will meet with your spouse and his or her attorney for however long it takes to arrive at a settlement you can both live with. Then your attorneys will help you present the agreement to the court.
A firm commitment to reach mutually agreeable terms is an important feature of collaborative divorce. This understanding can help both of you get through a difficult situation as you keep the most important priorities at the forefront.
It is common to invite experts to collaborative divorce negotiations. They can analyze the facts and make recommendations to the two of you together. For example, you and your spouse might call on a tax consultant, a real estate appraiser and/or a child psychologist. The professional will explain how you can both come out ahead through particular decisions.
This is very different from when spouses bring opposing experts to mediation or as witnesses in court. Collaborative divorce encourages consideration of each partner’s best interests. You will see how specific outcomes may affect every member of the family. Especially when there are children, even spouses with great differences are often able to resolve conflicts productively through the lens of collaborative divorce.
If negotiations break down in collaborative family law discussions, the next step is for both of you to hire new lawyers and start over. Knowing about this possible detour can help keep both of you on track.