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What Is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative law is a type of alternative dispute resolution that can be used in a Minnesota divorce. It draws on multiple disciplines to find mutually-beneficial and holistic solutions to divorce issues.

Minnesota collaborative divorce is a positive alternative to the often-contentious courtroom divorce. To begin a collaborative divorce, both spouses must sign a Participation Agreement, which discusses the process. Parties generally agree to:

  • Fully disclose all information relevant to the divorce and not conceal details from the other spouse or the professionals involved in the collaborative divorce
  • Maintain confidentiality of statements made during the collaborative divorce
  • Use neutral experts
  • Consider working with a team of professionals from multiple disciplines

Aside from your Minnesota collaborative divorce lawyers, the team of professionals can include facilitators, mediators, financial specialists, psychologists and child specialists. This team can help you address all matters in your divorce, including parenting issues, property valuation, financial matters and emotional stress.

After signing a Participation Agreement, the parties must complete a Joint Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation. Then, the parties work together to determine their objectives and concerns about the collaborative divorce, decide on professionals to use, and plan collaborative divorce meetings.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Minnesota Collaborative Divorce

Many divorces that employ the traditional, litigation-based model pit the spouses against each other.  Each side is forced to take a defensive posture to protect against the fear of potential weaknesses.  Often spouses will be encouraged to take dramatically different positions with the idea that meeting in the middle will always lead to a reasonable result.  Unfortunately, that is not always true.  Unreasonable demands can lead to unreasonable lines drawn in the sand for no good reason other than the need to win.

Unless the spouses can come to an agreement, the judge will be the ultimate decision-maker, not the spouses. Can a judge - who has had very little contact with you and your children - really determine what is best for your children, etc.? Through a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse work together, with the benefit of trained counsel and neutrals to cooperatively find mutually-beneficial solutions. Collaborative divorce sets the stage for a less stressful future, giving spouses the framework to work together in the future.

However, collaborative divorce is not for everyone. In high-emotion divorces where the parties will not be able to come to an agreement without the help of a judge, or divorces involving unequal parties, the traditional process may be a better forum. Collaborative professionals, including attorneys, work outside of the courtroom and cannot continue to represent you if you decide to go back to the conventional court process.

That is why it is important for you to consult a Minnesota divorce lawyer to learn more about the collaborative law process and whether it is right for you.

Source: Collaborative Law Institution of Minnesota, "The Collaborative Approach."

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