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Jim Moskowitz
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Could Collaborative Divorce Make Things Easier on You and Your Family?

When people learn that I am a divorce lawyer, I am often asked to tell stories about the most horrible cases in which I have been involved. While I appreciate the interest, I kindly explain that I am unable to discuss my cases. However, their requests are valid as divorce cases are often messy and difficult. One of the biggest reasons for the conflict and mess was the lack of a structured alternative that was supported by the law. Fortunately, that all changed in 2013 when Ohio’s Collaborative Family Law Act came into effect. Under the Act, Ohioans have the option of resolving the issues involved in a divorce through a process called Collaborative Law.

Collaborative Law is a client driven process meaning that, instead of being told what to do by the lawyers, the clients make their own decisions. While the divorcing couple each has their own attorney who provides information, guidance, opinions and support, everyone involved works toward a common goal: assisting the couple to reach their own agreement.

For more information about Ohio’s Collaborative Family Law Act, visit the Ohio State Bar Association  and the Cincinnati Academy of Collaborative Professionals.

How Does Collaborative Divorce Work?

So what is a collaborative divorce? In reality, collaborative divorces aren’t officially divorces because nobody actually files for divorce against his or her spouse. All issues are agreed upon before the spouses file a joint Petition for Dissolution with the court system to end their marriage.

During the process, spouses meet with their legal representatives and possibly a group of expert professionals, such as financial experts and/or psychologists, to make joint decisions about custody, visitation, spousal support, child support, property division, and anything else that is necessary to end their marriage.

The two spouses each have their own attorneys, all of whom enter into a collaborative agreement.  The collaborative agreement is a contract that addresses the collaborative process and sets forth the rights and obligations of all whom are involved in the process.  The document requires that the spouses engage in the process in good faith with full disclosure and limits the scope of what either attorney can do on behalf of his or her client. Should the collaborative process fail, the attorneys would no longer represent the spouses and new attorneys would be hired for litigation.

Benefits of Collaborative Divorce

While there are many benefits for couples choosing a collaborative divorce, one really stands out. It is the spirit of a collaborative divorce. During the process, everyone commits to working together and communicating in an honest and respectful manner. The couple and the professionals work as a team to make decisions about the end of their marriage. While it is not always pleasant, creating and maintaining a low-conflict environment and working cooperatively helps everyone feel better about the situation. This feeling usually extends to the children, who are often spared the agony of living through the bad feelings that arise during a divorce.

Is Collaborative Divorce for You?

It’s important to realize that a collaborative divorce is not for every couple. Though beneficial for many, there are just some couples for whom the process would be a waste of time and money. Sometimes one spouse feels betrayed and is unwilling to work with the other to reach an agreement or personalities might be too combative to even attempt working through the issues. Likewise, if a marriage was abusive, collaborative may not be the best choice.

The attorneys at Moskowitz & Moskowitz, LLC have experience with Collaborative Law. The attorneys are members of the Cincinnati Academy of Collaborative Professionals as well as the International Association of Collaborative Professionals.

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