Collaborative Divorce Lawyers in Colorado

Denver Collaborative Divorce Attorneys

Divorce is often one of the most stressful experiences an individual can face. You have concerns about your financial and personal future, how your children will be affected, and whether your spouse will agree to your terms. Many divorce proceedings are contentious and can drag on for years until they are finalized. 

At Griffiths Law PC, we work closely with those seeking a less frustrating kind of resolution, pairing our top-notch negotiating skills with our years of legal training. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our Denver collaborative divorce attorneys and learn more. 

What Is Collaborative Divorce in Denver, CO?

Collaborative divorce aims to reduce the worries, bitterness, delays, and negative effects of ending a marriage. It involves both parties committing to solutions that are mutually beneficial. It also puts a confirmed end to negotiations since a collaborative divorce contract stipulates that neither party will pursue legal action if they do not reach an agreement.

While not all collaborative divorce situations are peaceful, using this approach can greatly reduce the amount of argument, gamesmanship, and unpleasantness each spouse must suffer. Negotiation encourages both parties to put the most important interests first, especially where children are involved.

Having a powerful and experienced legal firm on your side can allow the discussion to remain neutral. It also takes a large emotional burden off your shoulders and keeps you rational and calm.  

Why Choose Griffiths Law for Your Collaborative Divorce Case?

Our history of results, awards, and positive reviews sets Griffiths Law apart in the world of Colorado family law. We rank as one of the Top 100 Woman-Owned Companies in the state, emphasizing compassion combined with diligence to serve all our clients. We have served clients in the Denver area for over two decades.

Our attorneys are skilled in handling divorce cases that range from simple to complex, including those for high-net-worth individuals. We can help you manage all aspects of your divorce, including child custody schedules, child support payments, alimony, asset division, and modifications. We employ forward-thinking and creative lawyers who are innovative and constantly up-to-date on advances in family law.

We focus on building the strongest case for your best outcome, including negotiating the most satisfactory solutions for collaborative divorce proceedings. Even when the parties are unfriendly, we can serve as a neutral guiding force to develop a solution that meets everyone’s needs.

How Collaborative Divorce Differs from Mediation

Mediation in a divorce is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) where both spouses present their sides to a neutral third party. Spouses may use legal advocates to argue for their demands, but the mediator is not working for either side. They will only meet with you on the day of the mediation and rarely have any other contact to understand your needs and desires.

On the other hand, your collaborative divorce attorney will be by your side from the beginning, listening to your story and crafting a compelling narrative. They will support your requests and tailor their arguments to your best interests. The mediator is focused on getting a deal completed, whereas your collaborative divorce lawyer is dedicated to getting you the best agreement possible.

Another difference is that a mediation can be binding or non-binding. If it is non-binding, the parties are not legally required to follow the decision. If it is binding, they are. In a collaborative divorce, the parties usually begin the process by signing a contract indicating that they will abide by any final decision and that they will not seek any further legal action, including litigation. 

Understanding How the Collaborative Divorce Process Works

The collaborative process is built around outlining all important discussions, developing an agenda to address them, and creating a participation agreement that will direct the decisions. There are often multiple people involved to aid the couple, such as a collaborative divorce lawyer for each spouse, a financial expert, a child welfare specialist, and a process facilitator.

The main focus is to concentrate on the best interests of both spouses and their children. This can require multiple meetings lasting two to three hours each. A case plan will be generated to create an agenda, a list of decisions to be made, and any outstanding concerns for each meeting. Meetings may cover asset divisions, child custody and support, alimony, or other topics.

The first step is to sign a participation agreement wherein both spouses agree to do the following actions:

  1. Disclose their financial information in full: Each spouse must provide and exchange the relevant documents disclosing their financial holdings. If necessary, a forensic account can be included by either party to ensure everything is revealed.
  2. Maintain privacy and confidentiality: All parties agree that all information shared and discussions for the proceedings will be kept confidential. This allows the spouses to freely express their feelings and concerns.
  3. Maintain mutual respect: Spouses and their attorneys agree they will conduct themselves in a respectful manner to everyone involved, avoiding personal attacks or abusive behavior.
  4. Put the children’s interests first: All parties will make every effort to provide the best outcome for the children, both immediately and for the years to come. 
  5. Divide consultant fees: The use of specialists to address financial, child, property, and other concerns should be borne by both spouses since both will benefit.
  6. Produce a binding written agreement: Both parents will work to create a final agreement addressing all matters as governed by family law.
  7. Authorize their lawyers for the decree: Part of the final agreement will be giving authority to each collaborative divorce attorney to act on their client’s behalf to secure a final written divorce decree so the spouses do not have to appear in court. 

Additional Considerations

Completing this full process may take more time than you expect. While the meetings themselves may only last a few hours, you and your spouse may need to wait for days or weeks as documents are obtained and results come in from financial or other experts. You may also need to discuss parenting schedules or other concerns with family members. 

Once all topics have been addressed and completed, your attorneys will finalize the materials and file them with the court. Because you are presenting agreements on all major concerns, the judge will usually issue the decree without changing anything.

Benefits of Collaborative Divorce in Denver, CO

Collaborative divorce negotiations often help a couple avoid going to trial to settle their differences. They can also speed up the entire process, provided they are willing to commit to the agreement that is reached. Other benefits of using this method include:

  • Better control over the outcome: The contract terms and discussions are under your control as a couple, meaning you do not leave your fate up to a family court judge. Building an agreeable document where everyone’s best interests are addressed lets both parties decide what works for them.
  • Reduced negative emotions: Divorce is unquestionably fraught with every emotion you can feel, from joy to despair. However, working with a collaborative divorce attorney can minimize the effects of tension and hostility for everyone, especially your children.
  • Lower your costs: While you are committed to getting the best results, you are likely also concerned about the financial effects of a protracted divorce case. Using collaborative divorce lawyers can require less billable time, thus lowering your overall attorney fees. 
  • Maintain your privacy: Since the details of your collaborative divorce proceedings do not enter a courtroom, the details and outcome are not made a matter of public record. This can be critical for those who want to keep their private lives private.

The most essential benefit of collaborative divorce is the way it sets the tone for compromise and reaching an agreement that works for both parties. When a couple has children, they will share parenting duties for many years to come. 

Establishing a cooperative relationship as the marriage is dissolved shows the children that their parents are able to put aside differences for the children’s welfare. They can also benefit from working with child welfare specialists to ensure their actions will limit negative effects on their children.

Benefits for High Net-Worth Divorces

The privacy aspect of a collaborative divorce proceeding is especially beneficial for high-profile couples or those who are dividing substantial assets. By avoiding the spectacle of a public trial, individuals can protect their emotional states and reputations. 

This process also allows them to prevent a public record of their finances, property, and other details. Spouses can share the cost of accountants and other experts to ensure businesses, homes, vehicles, and other assets are correctly valued. 

Potential Downsides of Collaborative Divorce

While there are many benefits of working in the collaborative divorce process, it is not for everyone and may have some potential downsides. It is critical that both parties are willing to be honest and work towards an outcome that works for everyone. If one or both spouses are too committed to “getting even,” collaborative divorce may not be the best choice.

Other potential issues to watch out for include:

  • All parties must be respectful: It is crucial that both spouses and their attorneys respect everyone who is participating in the discussions and the process itself. If one partner cannot take things seriously, exhibits abusive or dismissive behavior, or tries to derail the meetings, it is likely that a collaborative divorce will not work.
  • Extreme emotions: Along with a need to get even or cause the other spouse distress, those who are still very angry with the other party may be unwilling to make any compromise. In addition, if there is a lot of fighting and stubbornness, the parties may be tempted to speak ill of each other to the children, resulting in unnecessary trauma for the children.
  • Honesty is key: One hallmark of collaborative divorce is the privacy aspect, meaning what is said in the negotiations will not be made public. Spouses must be completely honest with each other about what they want and how they feel to achieve the best result.
  • Spouses are responsible for themselves: Your attorney can guide you from a legal standpoint and give you their experienced opinion. However, they cannot make decisions for you. Each party will need to state their desires for the process and make their own choices.
  • The courts will not be involved: Other than issuing the final divorce decree, the court system will not be available to render verdicts on child custody, child support payments, alimony, or parenting schedules. These will all have to be worked out by the couple during the collaborative process and presented with the final request for divorce.

Warning: Liars, Cheats, and Manipulators Need Not Apply

As with any divorce proceeding, it is essential that each spouse have their own attorney representing their interests. In situations where one spouse is not being honest about extramarital affairs, financial holdings, or hidden assets, the other partner will need a powerful legal advocate who will conduct extensive research. 

One partner may be pushing for collaborative divorce because privacy allows them to keep their dirty dealings a secret. They may also want to speed things along so they can keep deceiving their spouse and get a divorce finalized before their partner finds out the truth. At Griffiths Law, we start from a place of skepticism to overcome any false feelings of trust our clients may have toward their spouses.

This may sound unfeeling, but we have found that it works to your advantage when we investigate the circumstances thoroughly instead of taking your spouse at their word. They may keep things from you to try to keep more than they deserve. This can be overcome by employing a forensic accountant and other specialists to protect your interests.

What Happens When Collaborative Divorce Does Not Work

Sometimes, collaborative divorce does not work. While most spouses sign an agreement indicating they will abide by the final decision and not seek trial if it does not work, this is not always the case. If they cannot reach a compromise on all the issues in their divorce, they may seek to use another method of alternate dispute resolution.

Additionally, they may decide to proceed to trial. This will typically require that they each hire a new divorce trial attorney since collaborative divorce lawyers do not usually manage those kinds of cases. At Griffiths Law, however, we are experienced in every type of proceeding and can explain your options during your free initial case evaluation.

Since the collaborative process is voluntary, participants can leave at any time if they feel it is not working or they discover information that changes their willingness to collaborate. When this happens, their attorney can assist them in moving the case to the care of a new lawyer who will manage the divorce trial. 

Is the Collaborative Divorce Process Faster Than Other Methods of Divorce in Denver, CO?

As with many elements of using the collaborative process, how fast the divorce can be completed depends on the spouses and their willingness to cooperate. If they are both truly devoted to being honest, respectful, transparent, and open with each other, then this process can often be a faster route to a final decree.

Another factor to consider is the complexity of the divorce. If there are many properties and financial holdings to divide, this may take a long time to negotiate. If the couple owns a business or businesses, valuing the assets and determining an equitable division can be a lengthy process. 

The same can be true for deciding child support and custody. Parents may wish to try out a parenting schedule for several weeks to ensure it works for everyone. If not, they may need to reopen that topic and start again. If one parent has strong reservations about custody for the other parent, this can slow the proceedings, just as it would in a litigated case. 

Learn More About Whether Collaborative Divorce Is Right for You

While it has many attractive qualities, the collaborative divorce model does not work for every couple. It relies on each spouse being dedicated to reaching an outcome that meets everyone’s best interests. It also requires complete honesty about emotions, needs, and finances. 

In a traditional divorce, you express your wishes to your lawyer and let them manage most of it. Collaborative divorce requires both spouses to take a hands-on approach to work their disagreements out with experienced legal guidance. This approach works best when a couple is experiencing an amicable breakup and truly wants the best for themselves and their children, but it can often serve partners who may be bitter but are willing to do the work.

To learn more about whether this process will work for you in your divorce, you will need to speak with our skilled and reputable Denver collaborative divorce attorneys at Griffiths Law PC. We can listen to your story during your initial consultation and help you determine how to proceed for the most satisfactory resolution to your concerns. Contact us through our online form today.

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