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Collaborative Divorce

Northern Colorado Collaborative Divorce Attorney

At the Law Offices of Shawn H. Smith, our lawyers serve clients seeking a less contentious alternative to a litigated divorce. One of these alternatives is collaborative divorce. In a collaborative divorce, couples work with trained professionals to resolve key issues together in a civil manner.

Our founder, Shawn H. Smith, is well-known as a Greeley and Fort Collins collaborative divorce attorney. He is also a member of Colorado Collaborative Divorce Professionals, a group of collaboratively trained lawyers. Shawn is a leader in collaborative law in northern Colorado and is passionate about guiding clients through the collaborative divorce process and toward a better tomorrow.

What Is Collaborative Divorce In Colorado?

Collaborative divorce is a completely open process designed for people committed to avoiding litigation. The process is run by a collaborative divorce team, which includes a mental health professional (who serves as its facilitator), a financial expert who helps both parties and two attorneys, one representing each spouse.

In Colorado, collaborative divorces happen in the following manner:

  • Each spouse will meet with their respective attorney to talk over the collaborative divorce process. The full collaborative divorce team, along with both spouses, will then meet to chart out the divorce.
  • The collaborative divorce team will gather information that will help them in facilitating the divorce.
  • The couple and collaborative divorce team will enter negotiations with the aim of reaching a divorce settlement.
  • Once a settlement is reached, a divorce agreement will be drafted. This, along with other pertinent documents, will be signed in a final divorce hearing.

The length of collaborative divorce in Colorado depends on the parties’ willingness to work together, as well as the complexity of the issues at hand. Collaborative divorce can be much quicker than litigated divorce if both parties cooperate.

Who Is Involved In The Collaborative Divorce Team In Colorado?

In Colorado, a collaborative divorce team usually consists of these professionals:

  • Collaborative divorce facilitator (CDF): The CDF’s job is to foster open, honest communication among the participants and guide them toward a resolution of their issues.
  • Collaboratively trained attorneys: Each spouse will work with their own collaboratively trained attorney, who will represent their interests during the collaborative divorce process.
  • Financial neutral: The role of the financial neutral is to take the participants’ relevant financial documents, analyze them and make financial projections. Based on these projections, they help participants consider different approaches to their settlement. A financial neutral can also assist with asset valuation.

Other professionals can become part of the team as needed or desired, including accountants, appraisers, child specialists and therapists.

What Are The Benefits Of Collaborative Divorce Over Traditional Divorce?

Collaborative divorce offers participants numerous benefits over a litigated divorce. Some of these benefits are:

  • Confidentiality: A courtroom is a public setting and is not exactly conducive to privacy. Unlike litigation, collaborative divorce happens outside of the public eye, guaranteeing that what happens during the process will remain confidential.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Collaborative divorce is expensive up front but costs far less than litigation overall. Participants also have the option to customize their collaborative divorce team to fit their financial needs.
  • Efficiency: A litigated divorce can be a drawn-out, time-consuming affair. Collaborative divorce, however, is built around participants’ schedules and involves fewer meetings.
  • Peace of mind: In a collaborative divorce, participants don’t need to go to court and are not focused on “winning.” The absence of these factors, coupled with the focus on their own and their children’s needs, make it a much more peaceful – and less stressful – way to end a marriage than litigation.
  • Support: Participants of collaborative divorce receive the emotional, financial and legal support they would not get through litigation.

What Is The Difference Between Collaborative Divorce And Mediation?

Both mediation and collaborative divorce are alternative dispute resolution methods, but that’s where the similarities end. In mediation, participants navigate the divorce process with the help of a mediator – a neutral, third-party facilitator. Oftentimes, this person is an attorney, though they cannot give legal advice to participants. Each participant may or may not be represented by their own attorney during mediation as well.

The basic structure of collaborative divorce in Colorado, by contrast, is more defined. The process centers around a collaborative divorce team of six people (this team can be smaller or larger based on participants’ needs) that works together to reach a consensus on crucial issues. In addition to the participants, this team includes two attorneys (one for each spouse), a CDF and a financial neutral.

What Happens If We Can’t Reach An Agreement Through Collaborative Divorce?

When parties cannot reach an agreement in a collaborative law setting, they will pursue a litigated divorce instead. If this happens, each party must hire new attorneys to represent them. Keep in mind, though, that most parties who participate in collaborative divorce in Colorado reach a successful resolution.

Talk To A Greeley And Fort Collins Collaborative Divorce Attorney

If you believe collaborative law is a viable option for your divorce, reach out to a Fort Collins collaborative divorce attorney. The Law Offices of Shawn H. Smith provides free consultation. You can contact us by phone at 970-387-6858 or online.