Collaborative Divorce Law in Denver

A divorce is never easy. Some cases simply need to be litigated in court with the parties taking risks by permitting a judge to determine their future lives. Other cases can be resolved through mediation. There is a third alternative that is a very exciting process and leaves the parties feeling like they had their input in the process. This alternative is the collaborative divorce option. Our Denver law firm invites you to learn about the process and talk to us about your specific questions.

The primary goal of the collaborative divorce process is to settle disputes in a non-adversarial way — by agreement rather than contested litigation. The model of a collaborative divorce generally includes a divorce coach, each party with their respective lawyers, and a financial neutral expert, all of whom are specifically trained in the collaborative law model. Certain cases may require other experts.

A collaborative divorce is less costly than a litigated divorce and leaves far fewer scars. It is more costly than a mediated divorce, but it is also more thorough. (We would stay away from saying this is more costly than anything — mediation, negotiated settlement, etc.)

How Does a Collaborative Divorce Work?

A collaborative divorce is a team-based approach that avoids the use of the judicial system, except for the granting of final orders. The parties meet with their lawyers and the divorce coach for as many sessions as necessary and, piece by piece, address every aspect of the divorce in a safe setting.

For families with children, the team will guide the parents regarding what is best for the children as they go through the divorce process. The team will help the parents enter into a parenting plan that will allocate parenting time, holiday time, vacation time, how major decisions will be made going forward, and how to handle any special needs of the children in the future. This process gives the children more stability and less anxiety about their future lives.

The collaborative process requires full disclosure and full cooperation. Some of you may be thinking, "How can this work if we hate each other?" Any couple can engage in the collaborative process. The key to making it work is cooperation with the process.

The collaborative approach is completely confidential. No one on the team can ever be called to testify in court.

What Is a Divorce Coach?

The role of the divorce coach is to keep the process moving in a forward direction while at the same time keeping the environment as stress-free as possible. The divorce coach is a full-fledged team member with complete access to both parties throughout the duration of the process, unlike a mediator. Additionally, unlike a judge, the divorce coach does not make decisions. In addition to facilitating team meetings, a divorce coach meets with the parties individually to help manage the emotional process of a divorce and, when appropriate, will make recommendations for therapy. Some divorce coaches are also mental health professionals.

Why Do We Need a Financial Neutral Expert?

It is more costly to run two households than one. The financial neutral expert will meet with the parties individually to determine income, debts, assets and how to allocate these in the best interest of both parties. This expert will help both spouses understand the financial marital estate. The financial neutral expert will analyze tax consequences and offer guidance regarding maintenance, child support, and division of retirement plans as well as help both parties in determining a budget after divorce.

Our Family Is Complicated. How Can We Resolve All of Our Issues?

Every family is unique and every break-up is unique. Each party will have their own specific goals. Some of those goals will be directly inapposite. Some issue will have priority over other issues. Children, family pets, potential relocation of one parent, and family businesses all bring potentially problematic and hard-to-resolve situations to the table. Both parties need to put in their best efforts to come to a solution that works for the divided family with the guidance of the coach, the attorneys and the financial neutral expert.

If My Spouse Is Crazy With Anger at Me, Can This Approach Still Work?

The simple answer is "yes." Collaborative divorce guides a couple experiencing a great deal of conflict to focus on everyone's best interest in a respectful way, rather than go down the destructive path of adversarial litigation. The reduction of conflict for the couple and for their children can save thousands of dollars in legal fees, counseling fees and the cost of a Parental Responsibilities Evaluation (PRE).

If the collaborative process is of interest to you and your spouse, Christelle C. Beck and Leslie A. Frost are trained collaborative divorce attorneys in Denver who can help you reach a mutually acceptable and durable agreement without the need of going to court.