When a spouse files a divorce petition in court, it becomes part of a public record that is available to any member of the public to review. In a standard litigation process, that becomes true of any documents required by the court for it to make decisions in the case. A Collaborative Divorce is different and allows the couple to keep their information private.
What Happens in a Traditional Litigated Divorce?
The traditional litigated divorce is an adversarial process. The parties generally do not communicate with each other and all discussions and negotiations are between their respective attorneys.
Disputes over financial issues result in financial documents, like bank statements, tax returns, ownership deeds for real estate, valuation of a business if they own a business together, and more will end with a court decision based on documents that have been filed in the public file. If one party is ordered to pay the other spousal support that is also filed with the court.
Disputes over childcare issues result in documents filed in the court. These documents include each party’s reasons for why they, and not the other parent, should have primary custody. Ultimately, the court order outlining the parenting schedule is filed with the court. The documents will also include the amount of child support one parent pays to the others.
All documents filed with the court are available to anyone interested in pulling the court file and looking at it. This is not what happens in a Collaborative Divorce.
Collaborative Divorce Protects Your Privacy
In a Collaborative Divorce, the couple works with professionals who help them come to their decisions without court intervention. They work with financial neutrals who work with the parties so they can come to a joint decision about how to divide their assets. The documents that are kept out of the public court file include:
- List of owned assets and the value of each one.
- A list of property that the court agrees is separate property of one party.
- How the assets and liabilities are distributed between the parties.
- Other sensitive financial information.
- Final decisions about the children such as dates they will be with each parent and what schools the children attend.
The only people with this information are those on the divorce team which includes the attorneys, divorce coaches and the financial neutral. They are all required to keep the information confidential. A final document is filed with the court which becomes the court’s final divorce decree.
One of the primary benefits of Collaborative Divorce is that dirty laundry is never aired in public. For high profile couples or low profile couples, the collaborative process make the divorce process easier than the full blown spectacle of “Divorce Court”.