Chances are that, if you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, you have a difficult time seeing eye to eye, perhaps even on those very important life issues. If you struggle to come to agreements on many things, you may be worried that your divorce will be much of the same. You may already be weary of the tension and arguments, and fighting it out in court is not something you are looking forward to.
Fortunately, Louisiana family law offers several alternatives for dispute resolution, including collaboration. With collaborative law, you and your spouse have a better chance of reaching a settlement civilly without having to go through a court battle. Before deciding if this is right for you, it is important to obtain as much information as possible about the process and to seek legal advice from a professional who has experience in collaborative law.
What can I expect?
Unlike litigation or even mediation, collaborative law does not involve a neutral third party, such as a judge or mediator. Instead, you and your spouse, along with your respective attorneys, have regular meetings to decide on the common divorce issues, such as property division, child custody and support amounts. The process of collaboration involves the following:
- You and your attorney get together privately to decide your goals for your divorce.
- You and your spouse’s respective attorneys sign an agreement that prevents them from representing you if collaboration breaks down and you end up taking your divorce to court.
- You and your spouse have a series of meetings with your attorneys to work out a settlement, which may take several weeks or longer.
- You may include neutral professionals, such as financial advisors, child advocates and even mental health experts, to guide you in making fair and reasonable decisions.
- You may decide to invite a mediator to assist you if you reach a stalemate on certain issues.
- When you reach a settlement, you will have to file the documents with the court, and your attorney can help with that step.
As with any alternative dispute resolution method, both parties must agree to the process and commit to reaching a fair solution. This may be especially important with collaboration because, if you fail to reach a settlement, you must start the divorce process over again with new lawyers before going to court. This is one reason why it is so important to obtain effective legal counsel from an experienced attorney.