Collaborative law doesn’t get much air time in pop culture; it is a lot less dramatic than a contentious divorce in court. Still, unless domestic violence and/or coercive control are an issue, many couples could benefit from collaborative law as a meaningful settlement process to settle their divorce. A collaborative divorce is generally less expensive, and it can resolve the divorce more quickly than a traditional divorce. It also can address the emotions of both spouses better since it’s focused on compromise and fair play. Either spouse may opt to have a coach, or a family specialist may be consulted, both professionals help with the emotional dynamics at play as parties move through the difficulty of the pain and loss of divorce.
So, what happens when a couple chooses collaborative law and can’t come to an agreement? Is it a good idea to threaten litigation during your collaborative meetings? Here’s what our St. Paul collaborative law attorneys at Maxim Smith Family Law have to say about this tactic.
The Goals of Collaborative Family Law
When two parties enter into a collaborative law contract, their goal is to resolve their family law issue without litigation. This could apply to a divorce, a custody case, or another family law issue. Each partner commits to working for the well-being of the entire family and abiding by the contractual agreement both parties signed in the very beginning. By agreeing to a collaborative divorce, each party agrees to disclose all documents and information truthfully, avoid hurling disrespectful words to their partner, and to insulate the children from the divorce process, thus minimizing the impact of the process on them. The partners and their St. Paul collaborative lawyers agree to work from a place of mutual respect to reach a win-win solution, based on interests, as opposed to positions.
Taking Litigation Off the Table
During traditional divorce negotiations, it’s fairly common for one spouse to threaten litigation when they don’t feel progress is occurring. In some instances this can be productive. It forces both parties and their St. Paul divorce lawyers to focus on negotiation since they don’t want to put the time and money into court. However, it’s also an abrasive – some would say unnecessary – way to move negotiations forward.
Collaborative law takes this option off the table. If you have agreed to a collaborative divorce, for example, you can’t cry foul and threaten litigation when your spouse refuses to let you have the silverware. Instead, you, your spouse, and both attorneys will refocus your efforts and try to come up with a reasonable compromise based on underlying interests.
What Happens When Collaborative Law Fails?
The collaborative law process isn’t mandated, and either party is free to walk away at any point. However, the point of collaborative law is to reach an agreement that meets the goals of both partners. . This cannot be achieved if one or both parties are ready to walk out at the first sign of disagreement or conflict. So, should you threaten litigation if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement? The short answer is it depends. You can compromise the integrity of your collaborative divorce by claiming you’re going to walk away. However, if there is a grave power imbalance that was unknown prior to commencing the collaborative process, or things just aren’t working, you or your spouse may decide to scrap the collaboration and just let a judge make the final decision.
If you want to give collaborative law a chance, Maxim Smith Family Law’s collaborative attorneys in St. Paul can answer all your questions during a free consultation. Give us a call at 651-294-2407 to learn more.