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How to Make Divorce in Virginia Easier | Common Collaborative Divorce Myths

There are many processes to choose from when seeking a divorce, but one thing remains true of all options – even when it is an “amicable” divorce, it is a struggle. The reason for this is that no matter how simple a divorce may seem, there is an emotional component that often goes unrealized until parties are in the midst of the proceedings. Obtaining a divorce by using the Collaborative Divorce Process is a great way to transition families into the next phase of their lives. The Collaborative Divorce Process could be utilized in most cases if people realized and understood the benefits of doing so.

During consultations, I often hear the same reasons over and over again as to why people do not believe they can use the Collaborative Divorce Process or why it will not work for their family. This article will address some of those false ideas and hopefully encourage parties considering divorce to realize the benefits of pursuing a Collaborative Divorce.

Myth #1: “The Collaborative Divorce Process can only be done if we already agree to everything.”

Sometimes people that use the Collaborative Divorce Process do have most things figured out, but I have yet to see a family have everything figured out. Until a divorce process is initiated, often there are things that the parties do not know about each other.

The saying “you don’t know what you don’t know” really comes into play during a divorce and the Collaborative Divorce Process is a great way to approach the unknown. The Collaborative Divorce Process is a great way to discuss difficulties in a “friendly” manner.

Myth #2: “Only couples that work well together can participate in the Collaborative Divorce Process.”

This is very far from the truth. Often times, emotions run high during a divorce and that causes people to act in a manner that is not their “norm.” When parties do not know what they want or feel like they have been blindsided by being asked for a divorce, it can cause a lot of anxiety and other emotions.

In the Collaborative Divorce Process, there is a team of professionals unique to that case that help guide the parties to a reasonable and amicable settlement. This team of professionals may include a counselor, financial professional, or other types of professionals depending on the case.

Myth #3: “The Collaborative Divorce Process is just a fancy way of doing mediation.”

This is a common misconception. During an initial consultation, I spend much of the time on discussing the differences and similarities between the Collaborative Divorce Process and mediation. While it is true that many Collaboratively trained attorneys are also trained as mediators, the actual process is very different. For example, mediation is typically done with one mediator and both parties, whereas the Collaborative Divorce Process requires that each party have their own Collaboratively trained attorney as part of the team of professionals. Mediation can also be done with the parties, their respective attorneys, and a retired judge.

While mediation is a good alternative dispute resolution, if the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the same attorneys may continue to represent the parties in a litigated case. This means the attorneys must always be litigation focused, even when trying to settle a case. While settlement negotiations are confidential, it is not unusual to learn information during the course of a mediation session. Mediation does not allow the parties and the attorneys to get into the “why” of something like a wine barrel is important and worth fighting over, like they be able to in the Collaborative Divorce Process.

If parties decide to ultimately stop the Collaborative Divorce Process, neither attorney may continue representation of the parties and the parties must obtain alternate counsel. This keeps the Collaborative Divorce attorney out of the litigation mindset completely.

Myth #4: Having so many professionals involved in the case will be too costly.

Divorce is expensive. It is a legitimate concern to have concerns about money and how quickly the expense of a divorce can pile up. Understanding the very real costs of divorce and making an informed decision is the best way to proceed. In most processes, both parties will have an attorney – even if just to review documents and file paperwork.

The cost of attorneys is a given in most divorce cases, but often the expenses are not limited to just each party’s attorney. For example, in many cases, financial experts, real estate appraisers, vocational experts, business valuations and mental or physical health experts may be a necessity.

Each of these experts comes at a cost that is not inexpensive. In a litigated matter, when one party has an expert, it is not unusual for the other party to have to obtain a counter-expert of that same opinion. The costs of experts and counter-experts can quickly mount. In the Collaborative Divorce Process, the parties hire one neutral, ultimately saving the costs of dueling experts or support systems.

How to Make Divorce in Virginia Easier

All in all, it is important to understand that while the divorce process is not inexpensive or void of emotion no matter what avenue you choose, the Collaborative Divorce Process will give you much more control over the process. You and your spouse will often leave the Collaborative Divorce Process feeling as though you had a say in dissolving your marriage and transitioning to the next phase of life for your family.



Sarah is a certified Collaborative divorce attorney with Select Law Partners, PLLC, who assists clients with reaching successful settlements without the need for expensive and lengthy litigation though the Collaborative Process. 

Sarah can be reached at 855-541-4867, or via email at sg@select.law. Her firm website is https://selectlawpartners.com/sarah-goding/.

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