If you and your spouse are contemplating a Tennessee divorce, it is highly likely that neither of you looks forward to a long, expensive court battle wherein the adversarial lines are firmly drawn between you. But divorce does not have to be this way. If both of you would just as soon not verbally rip each other to shreds in open court, you may wish to consider obtaining a collaborative divorce.
Unlike a traditional litigated divorce, a collaborative divorce has no adversarial relationships. While you and your spouse each retains your own attorney, the similarities stop here. Your respective attorneys never see each other as adversaries, nor do they see you and your spouse as adversaries. Instead, the jobs of you and your spouse are to negotiate and settle your differences in a civilized manner. The jobs of your respective attorneys are to guide you through the divorce process and protect your respective legal rights should such protection become necessary.
The collaborative process
Initially, you and your spouse meet privately with your respective attorneys. This is your opportunity to express your fears, concerns, frustrations, etc. so your attorney completely understands where you are coming from and why. It also, however, is your opportunity to discuss with him or her the areas in which you are open to compromise. Remember, the attorney-client privilege precludes your attorney from sharing anything the two of you talk about to anyone else without your express permission.
After these initial private meetings, you, your spouse and your respective attorneys hold a series of joint meetings during which you and your spouse negotiate with each other regarding whatever issues you currently face. While each couple’s situation is unique, if you and your spouse are like most divorcing couples, you likely have, at minimum, the following concerns:
- The post-divorce custody and support of your children
- The visitation and/or parenting plan arrangements regarding your children
- Which of you, if either, will continue to live in the family home or whether you will sell it and split the sale proceeds
- Which of you, if either, will pay spousal support to the other, and if so, in what amount
- The manner in which you and your spouse will fairly and equitably divide your marital property
Bear in mind that you and/or your spouse can include additional neutral professionals in any of these meetings if you choose, such as child psychologists, financial planners, investment counselors, accountants, etc.
Once you and your spouse resolve all your issues, one of the attorneys will reduce your agreements to writing and present them to the court. If the judge approves them, finding that your agreements regarding your children are in their best interests and that your property settlement represents a fair and equitable division of your marital property, (s)he may grant your divorce without the necessity of either you or your spouse stepping foot inside a courthouse.
All in all, a collaborative divorce has numerous advantages and virtually no disadvantages. Not only can it cost up to 40 percent less than a traditional litigated divorce, it ensures to the greatest extent possible that you, your spouse and your children will not suffer the severe emotional wear and tear that so many litigated divorces inflict. In addition, it allows you and your spouse to resolve your own differences rather than leaving life-changing decisions up to a judge.