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What is a collaborative divorce, and is it right for you?

Often, by the time a California couple has reached the point of moving forward with a divorce, collaboration is the last thing on their minds. However, spouses may want to consider structuring their divorce process in a collaborative manner, as the benefits of such an approach are numerous. While the end product of any divorce is the division of one household into two, the manner in which that is accomplished can have lasting ramifications on all parties.

A collaborative divorce involves using attorneys who have been trained in the method, and who are committed to working together to reach a mutually agreeable dissolution of the marriage. Additional help can be sought in the form of financial planners or therapists, and the focus is trained onto reaching a solution that takes the needs of both spouses into consideration. While some may initially scoff at the idea of working together to end a marriage, a closer look reveals that the method has tangible benefits in the form of lower legal costs and less time spent in hearings.

Aside from the practical considerations, there are emotional benefits to taking a collaborative approach, as well. Many divorces can take an ugly turn, and can devolve into a long and bitter fight between partners who used to have genuine affection for one another. While a collaborative divorce is still geared toward ending that union, it can be healthy for both partners to work together to ensure that issues of property division and other matters provide both with the security that is needed to move forward in their new lives.

Even if one or both spouses have already secured legal representation, it may be worth consulting with their attorney to determine if a collaborative approach is possible. While this may not be the best match for every California couple, the potential benefits make collaboration worth a try. As with most things in life, having options is always a good thing, and exploring the collaborative divorce method can help an individual determine the best path forward to a new life.

Source: Hartford Courant, "Divorce, Collaborative Style," Anne M. Hamilton, Sept. 27, 2012

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