Collaborative Divorce

Cleveland, OH Family Law & Divorce Attorneys

COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE

A Collaborative Divorce is a non-adversarial option providing privacy, support, and guidance to the couple and family. The Collaborative team includes not only the attorneys, but also neutral parties, such as a financial professional, a divorce coach or a child specialist.

The collaborative attorneys guide the couple through the process assisting in facilitating an agreement that meets the goals, interests, and concerns of the family. This process is private compared to litigation, and the professionals create an atmosphere conducive to openness and trust. The Collaborative Divorce process is client-centered, and all information is gathered in a transparent manner. The goal is to provide the couple with all the information they need to make informed decisions about their future, finances, assets and the care of their children.

The court is not involved in this process until final agreements are reached and then only to the extent of a final dissolution hearing.

Benefits of the Collaborative Process include:

Interest-based negotiations (similar to mediation) are used, promoting the parties’ long-term ability to effectively communicate and minimizing the negative impact on children from the conflict.
All information is voluntarily and transparently shared fully in a private forum, on request of either party, and all negotiations take place directly, during Collaborative meetings. In those meetings, an environment of trust is promoted by the knowledge that the other spouse’s attorney will not someday be an adversary.
Each of the lawyers is retained for only the limited purpose of helping her or his client reach an acceptable settlement on all issues, without litigation or threatening to litigate.

Drawbacks of the Collaborative Process include:

Like mediation and lawyer negotiation, each side has the unilateral right to terminate the process at any time and force the other party into litigation.
Unlike mediation or lawyer negotiation, if the collaborative process fails, neither lawyer can continue to represent her or his client. Each client must retain new counsel for litigation, with the likely effect that some or all legal fees expended on the collaborative process were for naught.
Each party may reach a point where she or he feels that there is no choice but to settle because of the investment she or he has already made in the process.

Drawbacks of the Collaborative Process include:

Like mediation and lawyer negotiation, each side has the unilateral right to terminate the process at any time and force the other party into litigation.
Unlike mediation or lawyer negotiation, if the collaborative process fails, neither lawyer can continue to represent her or his client. Each client must retain new counsel for litigation, with the likely effect that some or all legal fees expended on the collaborative process were for naught.
Each party may reach a point where she or he feels that there is no choice but to settle because of the investment she or he has already made in the process.

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ABOUT COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE

LEARN MORE

ABOUT COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE

When a client has decided that they may need to end their marriage, we at Zoller | Biacsi provide the pros and cons of all of the various options available when terminating a marital relationship. It is our belief that our clients must be provided with as much knowledge as possible before they make the decision as to which option will work best for their unique family situation. There are adversarial options (Divorce) and non-adversarial options (Mediation & Collaborative Divorce).

 COLLABORATIVE PROCESS | NON-ADVERSARIAL 

Possible benefits may include:

  • Interest-based negotiations are utilized, similar to mediation, promoting the parties= long-term ability to effectively communicate and minimizing the negative impact upon children from the conflict.
  • All information is voluntarily and transparently shared fully in a private forum, on request of either party, and all negotiations take place directly, face-to-face, in four-way meetings in which an environment of trust is promoted by the knowledge that the other spouse’s attorney will not some day be an adversary.
  • Each of the lawyers is retained for only the limited purpose of helping her or his client reach an acceptable settlement on all issues, without litigation or threatening to litigate.

Possible drawbacks may include:

  • Like mediation and principled negotiation, each side has the unilateral right to terminate the process at any time and force the other party into litigation.
  • Unlike mediation or principled negotiation, if the collaborative process fails, neither lawyer can continue to represent her or his client and each client must retain new counsel for litigation, with the likely effect that some or perhaps all the legal fees expended upon the collaborative process were for naught.
  • Each party may reach a point where she or he feels that there is no choice but to settle because of the investment she or he has already made in the process.

MEDIATION| NON-ADVERSARIAL 

Possible benefits may include:

  • A third-party neutral facilitates resolution by direct, face-to-face negotiations between the parties.
  • Parties retain control over decision making so that each party’s needs and interests, along with a wider variety of options, are generally given consideration, not just the evidence and the law as in adversarial processes such as litigation or arbitration.
  • As opposed to litigation or arbitration, it is a process that can more effectively address the interpersonal issues that can obstruct resolution.

Possible drawbacks may include:

  • The neutral mediator cannot individually counsel either party or do much to level unequal bargaining positions between parties.
  • The neutral mediator is limited in his/her ability to facilitate the discovery of necessary information in the face of one party’s obstructive behavior and is ethically prohibited from preparing the final agreements and other legal paperwork.
  • Since the parties’ lawyers generally do not participate directly in the negotiations, the lawyers remain unaligned with the process, resulting in a greater risk that the mediated agreement may be scuttled when each party receives her or his lawyer’s critique.

LAWYER NEGOTIATION (Sometimes alternately referred to as “Structured,” “Principled,” and “Cooperative” Negotiations) | ADVERSARIAL

Possible benefits may include:

  • Lawyers may use interest-based negotiation, and may choose to cooperate on discovery matters, through negotiations that can take place either in four-way meetings or between the lawyers.
  • Unlike a collaborative process, the lawyers are not retained for a limited purpose and each party can keep her or his same counsel to litigate unresolved issues.

Possible drawbacks may include:

  • Unlike mediation or a collaborative process, protocols and processes are not as clearly defined, decreasing the likelihood of resolution and increasing the likelihood that a party will resort to litigation.
  • The possibility that the lawyers may at some point be adversaries in litigation can negatively impact the level of trust that may be necessary to resolve issues (especially in an interest-based negotiation) because, like in litigation, the attorneys are still simultaneously pursuing settlement and preparing for trial.

ARBITRATION | ADVERSARIAL

Possible benefits may include:

  • Unlike litigation, a third-party lawyer is selected and hired to act as a private judge, so that the case can be heard in a private forum and on a time schedule determined by the parties.
  • The scope of an arbitrator’s powers and role are determined by the parties’ agreement to utilize arbitration.

Possible drawbacks may include:

  • Parenting disputes and child support amounts cannot be absolutely determined by an arbitrator, meaning that court intervention will still be required on these issues if they are not settled by agreement.
  • Arbitration utilizes the adversarial process, like litigation, and therefore many of the same risks of litigation (increased relational costs, ceding control over decision-making, etc.) still apply.

LITIGATION | ADVERSARIAL

Possible benefits may include:

  • The court can issue temporary orders restraining, among other things, the wrongful dissipation of assets, generally on an immediate basis.
  • The court can issue other temporary orders, regarding matters such as parenting rights and support obligations, although such orders may take weeks or months.
  • The court can enforce the discovery of necessary information and may impose sanctions for failure to comply with the discovery process.
  • If any issues are not ultimately settled, the court will hear evidence at a trial, apply the law as prescribed, and then make a decision disposing of all remaining disputes.

Possible drawbacks may include:

  • Adversarial process, in a non-private forum, and position-based bargaining greatly increases relational costs (i.e., increased likelihood of long-term impairment of the parties= ability to directly communicate and interact with each other in a dignified, effective manner).
  • Increased conflict between the parties increases the negative impact upon their children.
  • The parties cede control in favor of the court making decisions for them, which decisions are necessarily made from a more limited, non-customized set of options, after consideration of only the information that is admissible under technical rules of evidence, and often neither party emerges as a clear winner.
  • The time consumed by, and resulting legal fees involved in, pursuing formal discovery proceedings, temporary order contests, trial and possible appellate court proceedings can take a substantial toll, emotionally and financially, upon both parties.

Financial advisors have been trained in the Collaborative Process and function as an objective third party consultant to help resolve financial concerns arising from a separation.

  • The financial advisor may, depending on the issues and their qualifications:
  • Gather information pertaining to family finances.
  • Listen respectfully to the financial goals of the spouses and assist them to identify their goals and interests.
  • Provide neutral guidance and advice to both parties, or, with the consent of the other party, advise one spouse as a consultant, within the Collaborative Process.
  • Assist with immediate financial concerns as well as illuminate long-range financial planning concerns.
  • Assist with the preparation of budgets and money managements where appropriate.
  • Provide pension valuations.
  • Provide tax advice.
  • Provide recommendations on the allocation of financial resources.
  • Participate in collaborative team meetings to ensure financial concerns are clearly understood and considered.

As you go through the difficult process of divorce, your Divorce Coach can help you:

  • Clarify your priorities and concerns in the midst of an often overwhelming and frustrating process
  • Deal with the intense emotions that typically accompany divorce and keep them from getting in the way of reaching your goals
  • Avoid the relational and financial costs of an adversarial divorce process while you work with a team of collaborative professionals
  • Stay focused on your goals and avoid being stuck in the past
  • Develop more effective, efficient communications skills with your former partner instead of repeating the same old unproductive patterns
  • Receive resources and referrals for needed services and information from knowledgeable professionals who care about your success
  • Learn problem-solving techniques and receive support for thinking “outside of the box”
  • Plan for your life beyond divorce and make positive changes

If you have children, coaching can also help you:

  • Maintain your vision for restructuring your family into a non-married family system
  • Identify and strengthen your parenting skills
  • Communicate appropriately with your child(ren) about your divorce
  • Help your child(ren) cope with confusion and changes related to your divorce
  • Work productively with your former partner for the benefit of your child(ren)

The child specialist in the Collaborative Process is a neutral advocate for the interests of the children. The role of the child specialist in this process differs from the role of the traditional child therapist and is not that of a custody evaluator for litigation. The child specialist can enter into the process at any time; the inclusion of the child specialist is not dependent on any special circumstances but can be initiated at the beginning of the Collaborative Process if only to provide the parents, or their children as the parents may agree, the welcome relief of being able to talk about their concerns.

The child specialist:

  • Educates regarding the best interests of the child. This involves assessing the characteristics and needs of the child and keeping the child’s needs in focus.
  • Provides a safe place for the child to share the child’s story and discuss concerns and interests, without worry of being seen as taking sides or disappointing either parent.
  • Provides the parents, their counsel, and divorce coaches where appropriate with information and guidance to help the parents, for the benefit of their children, through the process. This involves sharing knowledge concerning developmental stages, attachment issues, and family systems.
  • Gives an oral report to the Collaborative Process professional team to help develop an effective parenting plan.
  • Does not provide a written forensic report, which is incongruent with the Collaborative Process.
  • Ensures that parties have a signed Collaborative Process Agreement in place (i.e. specifying that no child specialist notes are admissible or subject to subpoena and there is an agreement of the parties that child specialists will not appear in court).
  • Recommends therapy (which must be provided by a separate therapist, not the child specialist) when needed.
  • Assists in development of terms for parenting plan.

CLEVELAND

COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE LAWYERS

If you are considering a collaborative divorce in the Northeast Ohio area, please contact a divorce lawyer at Zoller | Biacsi. We understand how difficult the divorce process is and we want to help you take the high road. The divorce lawyers at Zoller | Biacsi have an abundance of experience in providing collaborative divorce services throughout the Cleveland and Northeast Ohio area. We offer a flat fee initial consultation that will allow you to learn more about our divorce services and which will fit your needs the best without any extra hassle on your end.

CLEVELAND

COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE LAWYERS

If you are considering a collaborative divorce in the Northeast Ohio area, please contact a divorce lawyer at Zoller | Biacsi. We understand how difficult the divorce process is and we want to help you take the high road. The divorce lawyers at Zoller | Biacsi have an abundance of experience in providing collaborative divorce services throughout the Cleveland and Northeast Ohio area. We offer a flat fee initial consultation that will allow you to learn more about our divorce services and which will fit your needs the best without any extra hassle on your end.

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You can get in touch with us through phone or our contact form. However, contacting us does not automatically create an attorney-client relationship. For these reasons, please refrain from sending any confidential information to us before we establish a legal attorney-client relationship.

Are you in the Cleveland and Northeast Ohio area? We are here to answer all your questions, schedule your initial consultation today!