Collaborative divorce sounds like a low-key, friendly, and inexpensive way to get a divorce. And it can be.
It can also create major problems if you’re not a good candidate for it. Here’s how to tell if an attempt at a collaborative divorce is likely to be more trouble than it’s worth.
1. When you can’t stand being in the same room as your spouse.
When you’re getting a regular divorce you can communicate primarily through your attornies. In a collaborative divorce, both divorcees and their attorneys meet in a conference room and begin going over the issues of the divorce.
The meetings can be time-consuming, which already puts some people under a lot of extra stress. If you feel a burst of temper every time your spouse walks into the room, how are you going to do when we’re on hour six of negotiations on a day you had to take off from work?
It goes without saying a collaborative divorce doesn’t tend to work out very well once tempers snap.
2. When your spouse is physically or emotionally abusive.
A manipulative, abusive spouse is dangerous to you and should not be invited to “collaborate.” Chances are your spouse will find many ways to pressure and bully you throughout the process, putting you on uneven and unequal footing.
The same goes if your spouse has a history of alcohol or drug abuse.
And abuse automatically means you’re going to want to do some things your spouse won’t want, like minimizing his or her contact with the kids.
See also: What to Do If You Feel Bullied By Your Ex.
3. When your spouse has a history of marital or financial infidelity.
Collaborative divorce requires both couples to be absolutely honest, especially about debts and assets.
A spouse who hid his or her mounting credit card debt from you, or who hid an affair, is likely to be a spouse who will keep other secrets as well. Like attempting to hide assets.
The moment you have to start a discovery process to find those assets the divorce turns antagonistic again, not collaborative. Your lying spouse may even be outraged you accused him or her of lying, even if the evidence of those lies is spread out all over the table.
4. When the costs and risks outweigh the benefits.
When you enter the collaborative divorce process you create an agreement which says if the process breaks down you will both have to hire new attorneys.
This essentially means starting the whole process over again, when you’ve already put days, weeks, or months into collaborative divorce. And, of course, it means spending more money to hire a second lawyer.
If anything about your spouse’s behavior or temperament makes you nervous about pursuing collaborative divorce, it’s a good idea to avoid it. Your gut instinct is probably the right impulse to follow.
Whether you’re planning on serving the paperwork yourself or have just been served, you need a great divorce attorney on your side. Contact the Law Offices of Sadek & Cooper today for a free consultation.