Cleveland Collaborative Divorce Attorneys
The end of a relationship is often a stressful, emotional time. When two people are required to go through a legal process to end their relationship, it can often become combative, with each party seeking to make sure that their rights are protected when it comes to their families and their finances. Yet there is another way to handle the end of a marriage, particularly when both parties get along reasonably well: a collaborative divorce.
In Ohio, collaborative divorce is a special process that is often less time-consuming, emotionally difficult, and costly than traditional methods of ending a marriage. Collaborative divorce isn’t for everyone, as it requires both spouses to come to an agreement on the issues related to the marriage. But if you and your soon-to-be-ex believe that you can work together and negotiate a fair agreement, then it may be the best option for everyone.
At Laubacher & Co., we have the experience and certifications required to handle a collaborative divorce. If you are interested in this process, our Cleveland collaborative divorce attorneys can work with you to help you end your marriage in a more peaceful, cost-effective way.
What Is Collaborative Divorce?
In 2012, the Ohio legislature enacted the Ohio Collaborative Family Law Act. While collaborative divorce had existed in the state prior to 2012, this law formalized the process, creating rules about how they are to be performed. This includes a requirement that attorneys who practice in collaborative law obtain certain certifications.
A collaborative divorce is not actually a divorce. Instead, it is a dissolution, one of the two legal mechanisms for ending a marriage in Ohio (the other being divorce). With a collaborative divorce, the two parties work together (collaborate) to resolve all of the issues related to ending their marriage, such as child custody, property division, and alimony. When an agreement is reached, the parties can request a dissolution from the court.
While collaborative divorce is a type of dissolution, it is distinct from the typical dissolution process. In a collaborative divorce, each party has to have its own attorney. The parties must also sign a “collaborative agreement,” where they pledge to engage in the process with a collaborative, low conflict attitude. A collaborative divorce often includes the assistance of experts, such as an accountant, to help craft an agreement that is fair and equitable for both parties.
Significantly, in a collaborative divorce, the scope of the attorneys’ representation is limited. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, then the lawyers must withdraw from the case. The parties can then seek new counsel to proceed with a divorce or regular dissolution.
Once a collaborative agreement is signed, then each party will meet with their lawyer before negotiations begin. From there, the spouses will meet, along with their attorneys, to begin negotiations. Many law firms who offer collaborative divorce services have people on their staff or who they can call to assist in the process, such as family counselors, psychologists, financial professionals, and real estate appraisers.
The attorneys will guide the negotiations, helping each spouse through the process, and making sure that each necessary element for the divorce is addressed. When the parties reach an agreement, then the lawyers will draft the legal documentation — known as a Petition for Dissolution — and submit it to the court. After a short hearing, the court will grant the dissolution.
Is Collaborative Divorce a Good Option for Me?
There are a number of potential benefits to the collaborative divorce process. It is typically a more amicable way of ending a marriage, by parties who accept that their partnership has come to an end. It is also far more cost-effective than other options, like a traditional divorce, and often takes much less time to achieve a resolution. Collaborative divorce is typically less stressful and emotionally fraught, compared to regular divorces and dissolutions.
Yet a collaborative divorce isn’t for everyone. It requires both parties to come to the table in a spirit of cooperation, as the dissolution will not be granted unless and until the parties agree to every aspect of the divorce. If they cannot reach an agreement, the court will not do it for them — and then they will have to start the formal divorce or dissolution process. This can end up costing significantly more money and take more time than simply starting with a divorce or dissolution, particularly because a collaborative divorce lawyer cannot represent either party if the process breaks down.
For these reasons, collaborative divorces are best for couples who are ending their relationship with a low amount of acrimony, and who are committed to working together to figure out whatever issues remain in their case. If you generally agree with your ex-spouse about child custody, how debts and assets will be divided, and the payment of child and/or spousal support, it may be the most efficient and cost-effective way to move forward.
However, if there are points of contention between you on any of these issues, collaborative divorce is probably not a good choice for you. For example, if you both want primary physical custody of your children, and neither of you is likely to budge, then a collaborative divorce probably won’t work. Similarly, if you anticipate a dispute over how your marital property will be divided, then a traditional divorce or dissolution is likely the better bet.
Interested in a Collaborative Divorce? We Can Help.
The end of a marriage can be traumatic, and the divorce process may serve to compound that trauma. If you and your ex believe that you can work things out amicably, then a collaborative divorce can reduce the amount of financial and emotional stress involved in getting a divorce or dissolution. A Cleveland collaborative divorce attorney can help.
At Laubacher & Co., we are dedicated to helping families resolve the difficult legal issues that may be facing them — such as divorce, child custody and support, and more. Attorneys Cara L. Santosuosso and Eric Laubacher are trained as collaborative law attorneys and parenting coordinators and will work with you to help you achieve the best possible resolution to your divorce case. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation, contact us today at 440-356-5700 or reach out online.