What Is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative Divorce is a voluntary dispute resolution process in which parties settle issues surrounding the end of their marriage outside of court. Montana’s Uniform Collaborative Law Act, enacted in 2015, supports this innovative divorce process. Each party must be represented by his or her own attorney; the attorneys agree that their representation will terminate if either party institutes contested court proceedings. The parties and their attorneys meet in a series of sessions to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement. If desired, the collaborative team may also include neutral mental health or financial professionals to provide guidance on parenting and financial issues.
The issues resolved typically include:
1. Distribution of Property (Assets/Liabilities)
2. Child Custody and Parenting Time
3. Child Support/Maintenance
How Is Collaborative Divorce Different from Traditional Divorce?
- The parties sign a collaborative participation agreement describing the nature and scope of the matter, expressing their intent to resolve their disputes and committing to a process based on honesty, cooperation, and a high standard of integrity.
- The parties voluntarily disclose all information which is relevant and material to the matter that must be decided.The parties agree to use good faith efforts in their negotiations to reach a mutually acceptable settlement.
- Each party must be represented by a lawyer whose representation terminates upon the undertaking of any contested court proceeding.
- The parties may engage mental health and financial professionals whose engagement terminates upon the undertaking of any contested court proceeding; and
- The parties may jointly engage other experts as needed.
Why Would I Choose Collaborative Divorce?
The collaborative process can provide the following benefits:
- The collaborative process allows you to avoid long, difficult, and often expensive court battles.
- The collaborative process focuses on problem-solving and finding respectful resolution.
- The collaborative process creates personal, cost-effective solutions that are right for your family
- The collaborative process maintains the decision-making with you and your spouse or partner
- The collaborative process provides the support and information you need with your specially trained team.
- The collaborative process preserves your dignity and privacy.
How Do I Get Started?
If you are interested in learning more about the collaborative process, call Margaret’s office at 406-442-2012. Margaret has received training in the practice of collaborative law and would be happy to answer your questions.