Montgomery County, PA Collaborative Divorce Attorney
Not all divorces need to be drawn out and painful. If you believe you and your spouse can put your differences aside and work together in a collaborative or mediated divorce, you may want to consult with a Montgomery County, PA divorce attorney. The decisions you make during this difficult time can affect the rest of your life, so consulting with an experienced and knowledgeable family law lawyer can help you decide the best option in your situation. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz have dedicated their practice to assisting individuals who have decided to divorce. Call our office today at (610) 645-0100 for a free phone consultation and to talk with us about the collaborative divorce process.
Collaborative law, also referred to as collaborative divorce, is a process of family law. It enables couples who have decided to divorce to work with their attorneys and other family professionals, if needed, to achieve a settlement that best meets the needs of both parties and any children involved. This can be done while avoiding uncertain outcomes in court proceedings and the threat of litigation that can be contested.
Pennsylvania collaborative divorce is a voluntary process that is initiated when the two parties sign a contract called the Participation Agreement which binds them to the process and also disqualifies their respective attorneys from representing either one in any future litigation. Both parties also agree to the complete disclosure of all necessary financial documentation and information. The majority of the work in a collaborative divorce occurs in "four-way meetings" where both parties and their respective attorneys are present to arrange the details of the Pennsylvania divorce.
The key to a collaborative divorce is a couple's ability to work together, as well as having experienced attorneys that are well-versed in collaborative law. Both couples are required to come to a mutual agreement that they will be respectful of each other during the process. After brainstorming possible solutions, a mutually acceptable option is selected to create a fair and reasonable agreement both parties can agree to and live with. The agreement is then entered into the court as a judgment of Pennsylvania divorce.
Mediation can also be used within a divorce, or a mediated divorce may be conducted separately. The main difference between a mediated divorce and a collaborative divorce is that in a collaborative divorce the parties work together along with their respective lawyers, while in a mediated divorce the parties work with a single mediator. Depending on the complexity of the situation, mediation can occur in a single meeting or in multiple meetings. The mediation process can help alleviate the stress that accompanies court appearances and meeting court dates by allowing both parties to schedule meetings when and where it works best for them.
As with collaborative divorce, after mediation both parties have the option to go to court if it is necessary. All aspects of mediation sessions are confidential and the information is not able to be used in a court setting to help prevent failed mediations from tainting proceedings in court.
The privacy that the collaborative and mediation process in a Pennsylvania divorce offers can help preserve both party’s financial resources as well as their emotions. Unlike the anger and bitterness that often results from a traditional divorce that are often contentious, family bonds and relationships between the two parties can often be maintained and preserved both during and after the divorce process.
Because it operates so differently than a litigated divorce, a collaborative divorce can provide benefits that are unavailable if the parents choose a more adversarial approach. Some of the benefits include:
- A shared focus on meeting each family member’s needs
- Creating “win-win” agreements instead of winners and losers
- Is focused on how the family will function in the future, not what happened in the past to cause the divorce
- Preserves the parents’ ability to cooperate and co-parent together
- Gives all parties a stake in abiding by the agreement, since they played a role in shaping it
- Keeps the family’s private life out of public view (litigated divorces can be part of the public record)
Collaborative divorce is a team effort where you and your lawyers work together in a series a private, confidential meetings to improve communication and do what’s best for the whole family, especially your kids. The goal is to treat everyone with respect and seriously consider the other spouse’s needs.
In collaborative divorce, both parties know that their grievances are being heard, reducing conflict throughout the divorce proceeding and into the future. Instead of rival attorneys publicly fighting to get their side the best possible deal, there’s a whole team of professionals working together to reduce conflict and come up with solutions designed to make things better for everybody.
Instead of playing the blame game and attacking each other in an adversarial courtroom setting, collaborative divorce focuses on finding common ground. In a contested divorce, each side is playing a winner-take-all game to try to get the most benefits for their client. By employing a win-win strategy, you can create an atmosphere where everyone walks away happy. Common win-win negotiating techniques include:
- Separate people from the problem: Don’t think of the other person as your opponent. Try to figure out the best way to solve problem at hand.
- Focus on interests instead of positions: Always try to be courteous and avoid casting blame, and look beyond your personal needs to find common interests.
- Utilize objective criteria: Establishing facts that will prove who is right and who is wrong won’t do anything to settle your legitimate disputes. It’s much more effective to determine the outcomes you both wish to achieve and then work to figure out the best ways to accomplish these goals.
- Seek areas of mutual gain: When you listen to the other person and make a good faith effort to understand their concerns, workable solutions will become clear.
By keeping your eyes on the prize, you can help ensure a peaceful and cooperative future for your family. Divorce is hard. It isn’t always easy to let go of the legitimate resentment you may be feeling towards someone who did bad things to you, but letting go of the past is essential for creating a hopeful future.
Mediation and collaborative divorce are all about putting your kids first, so they can go on to lead happy and productive lives. By eliminating the fuss and fury of a contested divorce, you will be giving a wonderful gift to yourself and your family. Contact a family law attorney at the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz at (610) 645-0100 to discuss your options.