Collaborative Divorce Lawyers In Ann Arbor

Certified Collaborative Divorce Attorney

Why go to court if you don’t need to? In the collaborative divorce process, both parties commit to settling out of court. They work with a team of collaboratively trained professionals to reach an agreement everyone feels comfortable with. This is a great way to divorce more amicably and to protect children’s best interests.

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce is likely the best solution you’ve never heard of. Although it’s been around since the 1990s and is slowly gaining momentum in Michigan, most people are not familiar with the collaborative divorce process. Here’s a quick primer.

The divorcing couple and their attorneys start by signing a Collaborative Practice Participation Agreement—a commitment to reaching a settlement without going to court. Then they have as many meetings as necessary while working alongside such collaboratively trained professionals as mental health therapists, CPAs, and child specialists.

Together, the divorcing couple navigates emotional, financial, and legal issues until they reach a fair and equitable settlement the whole family agrees on. However, if negotiations break down and one party decides to resort to court, then all members of the collaborative team, including both attorneys, must resign from the case. This powerful incentive typically keeps 99% of couples engaged in crafting a settlement, and out of the courthouse.

Who Benefits from Collaborative Divorce?

As a client-centered, out-of-court process, everyone benefits from collaborative divorce:

  • Kids are not caught in the middle. Through collaboration, the divorcing parties come up with unified plans for parenting time and communication that are in the children’s best interests.
  • Emotions are defused. It is often emotional pain that ratchets up conflict and makes traditional divorce litigation so contentious. But with collaborative divorce professionals at the table, emotions are addressed with the intention of finding a workable solution and a path forward. This is especially helpful in high-conflict cases.
  • Long-term relations are healthier. Couples who reach agreements mutually, instead of letting a judge decide, tend to fight less after the divorce is over. It’s healthier for the children because they aren’t exposed to all the negativity that comes up during court proceedings. By staying out of court, and by working in an environment of mutual respect and creative problem-solving, it’s healthier for the whole family.

Collaborative Divorce: A Team Approach To Divorce

A collaborative divorce involves a team of collaboratively trained professionals. This includes two attorneys (one for each spouse) and at least one mental health professional (divorce coach). Here are some of the key roles:

  • Divorce coach—This can be either a neutral mental health professional (who serves both parties) or two mental health professionals (one for each spouse). The divorce coach identifies priorities and works through the emotional difficulties of divorce. They focus on how the future will look.
  • Neutral financial specialist—Typically either a CPA or financial advisor, the neutral financial specialist can assist with summarizing marital assets, establishing values, developing separate household budgets, and educating both parties on their financial options.
  • Neutral child specialist—Also a licensed mental health professional, the child specialist can help come up with a parenting time plan and communication plan that works in the whole family’s best interests and represents each child’s needs.

How Collaborative Divorce Differs From Traditional Divorce Litigation

In traditional divorce litigation, issues are framed from one party’s advantage, and information is often withheld to try to get an upper hand. A judge decides the outcome, and rarely are both parties satisfied with the conclusion. A traditional divorce can be the first step in an ongoing battle of bitterness, with children caught in the middle of contention over child support and custody agreements.

A collaborative divorce, on the other hand, encourages constructive communication, honest disclosure, and creative problem-solving. As both parties work together to resolve their differences, they create an environment of respect. By keeping an eye toward the future, they come up with a workable, mutually agreeable settlement. Restructured families get off to a good start with both parents actively planning together for their “new normal.”

Why Choose Wendy as Your Collaborative Divorce Attorney?

As a certified Collaborative Divorce Attorney who has completed Advanced Mediation and Collaborative Training, Wendy Alton is intimately familiar with the collaborative process. She has seen it work wonders for clients—even in the most contentious and emotional of cases. She can confidently guide clients through the process, empowering them to find creative solutions to their challenges until they reach a workable and agreeable settlement. The collaborative process allows them to move forward with their lives in a healthier way.

Contact Our Ann Arbor Collaborative Divorce Lawyers

While it is a commitment to go through a series of collaborative divorce meetings and to promise to keep the case out of court, the positive and creative outcome is worth it. Contact Collaborative Divorce Attorney Wendy Alton online or call 734-673-3567 for a complimentary consultation.