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Making The Complex Understandable

Is collaborative divorce an option for domestic violence victims?

When considering their options for ending a marriage, many Louisiana spouses who have been subjected to acts of domestic violence disregard collaboration as a viable choice. There are cases, however, where a collaborative divorce can be a good fit for someone who has lived through domestic violence. In fact, one state has recently approved new rules outlining how these cases should be handled.

Those rules state that in order for a divorce to move forward through a collaborative process, both parties have to agree to that approach. If domestic violence is an issue, then the victim has to specifically request collaboration, and his or her attorney must sign off on the approach. The attorney must express a belief that the client's safety will be safeguarded throughout the divorce process.

In that state, collaboration is achieved through a series of three or four meetings, which last around two hours each. During those meetings, each party's attorney is present, in addition to a financial expert and mental health expert, both of which are neutral parties to the divorce. Those professionals work to inform and guide the spouses as they work to resolve the details of their divorce.

Many believe that collaboration can be a good fit for couples who have experienced domestic violence. In traditional divorce litigation, the more dominant and aggressive party often has a distinct advantage, which can be a problem for victims. In collaboration, there are more professionals directly involved in the sessions, which can reduce tensions and diffuse potential conflicts before they escalate. That can keep the focus where it should be, on helping the couple resolve their differences. Such an approach could make divorce a far easier process for many Louisiana spouses.

Source:, "Gentler, kinder collaborative divorce rules get approval in Florida", Frank Fernandez, Aug. 27, 2017

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