On behalf of South Tampa Law Group on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.
The process of ending a marriage is complex and confusing. There is a lot on the line: time with the kids and how to divide finances – to name only a few. These decisions are also coming at a time when emotions are running high. Both about the breakup, but also about the uncertainty of the future and how to best raise the children, together – yet apart.
While there are plenty of couples who simply are not going to be able to sit down and come to agreements and will need to litigate the details in court, there are others who can still be civil toward one another and may even be able to keep their divorce out of the courtroom through a cooperative divorce.
Understanding cooperative divorce
Like a collaborative divorce, with a cooperative divorce, instead of fighting the battle out in the courtroom, you can resolve legal and financial disputes through mediation and negotiation.
Do not take the word “cooperative” to mean you need to be best friends with your ex. You do not need to get along or even really like each other to successfully get divorced outside of the courtroom. Rather, you just need to each have your own attorney and a willingness to be able to come to reasonable agreements.
With a cooperative divorce, you will both have your own legal representation. You will meet with your attorneys separately. Tell your attorney exactly what it is that you want out of the divorce. Are you looking for a certain type of parenting schedule? Say this. Do you want to receive alimony? What about the family home? What about retirement accounts and investments? Go over everything. Make sure your attorney knows exactly what you would like and what is an absolute must.
From here, you and your attorney will meet with your ex and their attorney. You will hash out the details. Other professionals will also most likely be brought in to help you reach the terms of your divorce, such as a parent coordinator.
The benefits to cooperative divorce
There are numerous benefits to cooperative divorce, with one of the big things being control. Instead of a judge listening to both sides and deciding, you work together to set the final details of your divorce.
For parents, this could also be good practice. For while you and your ex may no longer be together, as co-parents you will need to work together to raise your children. The experience of working together on your divorce can help guide future conversations you will inevitably have as your children grow.
Other benefits also include:
- Less stress by avoiding litigation
- Allowing you to decide how you will resolve post-divorce disputes
- The ability to still proceed with litigation if necessary
Guidance from the very beginning
While collaboration and cooperation is great, it is not necessarily for everyone. Like any divorce, you should also never attempt to go at this alone, as you have too much on the line to lose.
The best thing to do is sit down with your attorney – someone who is comfortable with cooperative divorce, but someone who also knows how to fiercely litigate if need be, as this may end up being necessary if you and your ex cannot come to agreements. Have an open and honest conversation about your situation. From here, you can figure out what will be in your best interest and move forward from there