Unlike mediation and arbitration, the cooperative divorce process does not have an independent person involved. Instead, the divorcing couple each hires their attorney, and the four of them are tasked with dissolving the marriage. This process begins when the couple agrees to conduct interest-based negotiations and sign an agreement stating that willingness.
This agreement may also include what process the parties will turn to should they be unable to agree on various matters. For example, if the couple is unable to agree on child support payments, the couple may feel the need to allow the courts to hear this portion of their divorce. However, if there is a disagreement about disbursement of retirement account proceeds, debt, or property division matters, the couple may opt for mediation or arbitration.
The Role of Attorneys in Cooperative Divorce
Each party to the divorce will initially meet with their lawyer, advise them of the issues they will face such as property division, child custody, child support, and other divorce-related matters. Each party will then discuss with their attorney what they would consider the best outcome, worst outcome, and what they would be willing to agree to should they be unable to get to the best outcome.
The couple and their attorneys will then meet in a neutral location and begin the negotiation process. Like all other types of alternative dispute resolution, anytime an agreement is reached, the attorneys will record the agreement. If there is any area where the two parties just cannot come to an agreement, the attorneys are then free to litigate the matters before the court if the couple feels this is the best solution.
The cooperative divorce process can be very productive, particularly if there is not a significant difference in what each party hopes to achieve. As with other models of dissolving a marriage, there must be some preliminary agreement between the spouses to keep the matters out of court and work together to reach a final agreement. If you are uncertain which type of alternative dispute resolution may work best for your situation, contact Wirtz Legal Solutions, LLC, and we can help explain each process and help you decide. Avoiding litigation can help each person in the process to have their say in a manner that can be heard by the other person, preserve their dignity, and move forward.