Divorces are not all resolved through court. Frequently, couples settle their separation through alternate dispute resolution (ADR), including divorce mediation and collaborative divorce. This enables spouses to work together with separate legal representation to create a separation agreement with less cost and stress. Collaborative divorce is an effective tool for spouses who want to work together, but it can even help spouses who have a contentious relationship. There are several benefits to going through a collaborative divorce.
Steps in Collaborative Divorce
Each collaborative divorce will be unique, but they often follow these steps:
- Each spouse finds their own attorney to represent their interests during negotiations.
- Spouses and their attorneys create an agreement to show that they are all willingly engaging in the collaborative divorce process.
- Each spouse meets with their own attorney to determine their wishes and limitations in the process as well as where compromise is and isn’t possible.
- All parties can then meet for discussions over a period of weeks or months. These discussions can negotiate the basic and detailed terms of a separation agreement, including spousal maintenance and property division. If spouses have children, the separation agreement will include a parenting plan and child support determinations.
- The family court is contacted to file the separation agreement. The judge will review the agreement to determine if it is unfair to either party and whether provisions for children are in the child’s interests. If the separation agreement is approved, it is entered into the court as an enforceable court order.
The goal of a collaborative divorce is to minimize contentious arguments and have legal representation for each party’s interests.
The Benefits of Obtaining a Collaborative Divorce
A collaborative divorce is a helpful process, even if you and your spouse don’t agree on every aspect of the divorce. If you are both willing to reach a compromise, a collaborative divorce is the ideal way to reach a resolution. The benefits include:
- Saves Time, Stress, and Money
Collaborative divorces can usually be resolved faster than court divorces. Not only are spouses working together rather than arguing against each other, but they also don’t have to wait for the court’s schedule to open. Court hearings are time-consuming, stressful, and expensive. Additionally, when a divorce takes longer or is more complicated, it will be more expensive. Collaborative divorces can be resolved more quickly, with fewer expenses.
- Spouses Have More Control
In litigation, the family court has the final say on a separation agreement. The court will listen to both spouse’s wishes and arguments. Then, it will determine the division of property, spousal maintenance, and other aspects of the separation. This can be immensely stressful to many couples, as their future and the future of their family are dependent on how separation is decided.
Collaborative divorce gives both spouses control over the separation agreement, with their interests supported by their own attorney. This means that the divorce will be more customized to your family’s unique needs. The separation agreement must still be approved by a judge, but it can also provide more certainty than leaving all decisions up to the court.
- The Divorce Is More Private
A divorce in court is a public affair, and any information discussed becomes a matter of public record. This includes financial information, personal information, and decisions about child support, spousal maintenance, and property division. By obtaining a collaborative divorce, the negotiations and final separation agreement are kept more private and out of court records.
- Easier on the Whole Family
In a collaborative divorce, any children that spouses have are more protected. Not only is an out-of-court approach less strenuous on children, but it creates a good foundation for parents to work together in their children’s interests. This can help them manage co-parenting in the future.
Q: What Is the Downside of Collaborative Divorce?
A: Collaborative divorce, like mediation, is a useful tactic if you and your spouse can reach an agreement for your separation terms or you are both willing to compromise. If you and your spouse cannot make an agreement that you are both satisfied with, or that the court will approve, you will have to start the divorce process over as a contested divorce in court. This means that you and your spouse have wasted time, energy, and money on the collaborative divorce process. If one or both spouses are unwilling to discuss or negotiate their wishes for a separation agreement, a collaborative divorce may not be the right option.
Q: What Is One Benefit of Collaborative Divorce?
A: The biggest draw of a collaborative divorce is that it avoids court. By settling a divorce through alternative methods, couples can save time, stress, and money while keeping their divorce private. Court hearings are overwhelming and exhausting, and they do not work with a couple’s schedule the way that mediation or collaborative divorce can. Instead, couples are subject to the availability and schedule of the court.
Q: How Long Do You Have to Be Separated to Get a Divorce in Missouri?
A: One spouse must be a resident of Missouri for at least 90 days to file for divorce. After filing for divorce, there is a waiting period of 30 days before the divorce can be finalized. During this time, spouses must be living separately. If a couple is getting an uncontested divorce, 30 days is the absolute minimum amount of time to obtain a divorce. However, if couples have not created a separation agreement by then, the finalization of the divorce will take longer.
Q: Is Missouri a 50-50 Property Division State for Divorce?
A: No, Missouri is not a 50-50 property division state but an equitable distribution state. If spouses leave the division of their assets and debts up to the court, the split will be equitable but not necessarily equal. The court will review factors such as each spouse’s contribution to economic and noneconomic marital assets to determine what is equitable. Although this split could end up 50-50, it does not have to be. Spouses with a marital agreement or who determine their division of property outside of court do not have to follow equitable distribution laws.
Legal Representation for Your Interests
If you are unsure whether collaborative divorce is the ideal option for your divorce, contact Stange Law Firm. Our experienced collaborative divorce attorneys can review your situation and help you make an informed choice.