On Feb. 24, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, R-St. Petersburg, filed for divorce. In his petition, Crist states that he anticipates that he and his wife will go through a “collaborative law process.” What is a collaborative divorce?
A collaborative divorce means that all issues are resolved outside court. Each spouse retains his or her own attorney, and the attorneys focus solely on reaching an agreement. This means that no time, energy or money is spent on opposition research, contested court hearings or dirty trial tactics.
Studies by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals show that nearly 90 percent of all collaborative cases end with a full agreement.
This may be because collaborative attorneys, unlike traditional divorce trial lawyers, have an incentive to help the spouses get along. If spouses are not getting along, traditional attorneys can make a pretty penny preparing for trial and getting a judge to decide the issues. In contrast, if the spouses cannot reach an agreement in the collaborative process, it means that the collaborative attorneys have not done their job and, in effect, they get fired.
The success of collaborative practice may also be due to its holistic approach. Collaborative professionals know that divorce is not merely a legal process, it is also an emotional and financial process. Collaborative divorce often takes advantage of experts to focus on the future and the children rather than the arguments of the past, and helps parties develop budgets and financial scenarios to ease the transition from married to single life.
Like many people who value privacy, peace, and respect, Crist plans on engaging in the collaborative divorce process. This means that he and his spouse will choose the sensible and humane way to move forward in their lives.
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