Isn’T Collaborative Divorce An Oxymoron?

“Collaborative Family Law” began in 1991 as an effort by lawyers in Minnesota to devise a more family-friendly divorce procedure. While it has some of the negative aspects of “binding arbitration,” a process whereby companies get employees to agree to forgo litigation in case of a dispute, there are situations where couples prefer the security of being able to conduct their divorce in private, while not giving up the benefit of counsel as they try to resolve complicated financial and contentious custody issues.

Collaborative divorces begin with a pledge by both parties to avoid litigation in divorce court, which for many people is the stuff of their worst nightmares. Mediations that go off the rails can end up in court, with one party considerably advantaged by the disclosures made by the other in the course of trying to reach an amicable settlement. Lawyers for each side participating in a collaborative divorce process pledge not only that they will make every effort to achieve settlement without recourse to the courts, but also that they will not represent the client should he or she renege on the agreement not to go to trial.

While divorce lawyers largely have a (not-totally-undeserved) reputation for scorched-earth aggressiveness, within the Connecticut family law bar there is a healthy subset of attorneys who have the quiet courage to take on the difficult role of restrained, helpful members of a more collaborate and adversarial process.

For Hirsch Legal, LLC, the needs and wishes of the client come before all else. There is no cookie-cutter divorce model that works perfectly for everyone. When you come to consult with Carmina Hirsch about how you would like to conduct your divorce, we will advise you about the benefits and pitfalls of litigation, mediation supervised by an attorney or other mediation specialist, or the more novel (at least in Connecticut) approach of collaborative divorce.

Among the benefits of the collaborative approach is that you save a tremendous amount of legal effort and time because there is no need for your attorney to prepare long written filings for the judge. The discovery process is also greatly streamlined, although most attorneys take a skeptical “trust but verify” approach, meaning they usually insist on seeing original bank records and deeds rather than a hastily-prepared asset summary that may contain inaccuracies or misleading information.

Like mediations, collaborative divorce negotiations are conducted in an office setting rather than in a public courtroom. This usually prevents scandalous facts or disparaging comments from reaching the ears of your family members, customers and business associates. On the other hand, when allegations such as physical and sexual abuse are part of the case, collaborative divorce is generally not advisable.

Hirsch Legal, LLC offers legal advice and mediation services for clients in New Haven and throughout Fairfield County. Our offices in Shelton are just a few minutes’ drive from Bridgeport, Westport, Danbury, Stamford, Waterbury, and Milford. If you are facing divorce or custody issues, give us a call today!

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