Is quicker resolution possible with a collaborative Massachusetts divorce?

When a relationship ends after many years, the process of untangling finances and addressing the needs of children is emotionally taxing. It can also be a lengthy process that can drag out for several years. In some cases, a collaborative law approach may speed the process and ensure that the parties end up with a workable agreement that does not require frequent trips back to court to modify.

The collaborative approach allows the spouses and their attorneys to sit down together and work through each issue. When there are complex issues, such as the valuation of a family business, the collaborative attorney will bring in subject-matter experts for assistance.

In the case of the family business, a neutral certified public accountant might provide a valuation, which helps each party gain a better understanding of their overall financial picture. When there are numerous concerns, the collaborative attorney may bring in a team of experts including a financial planner or a child psychologist.

If the parties cannot reach agreement, they would then need to hire new trial attorneys to represent them through the litigation process.

When communication has broken down completely and the spouses cannot work out disagreements in the same room, mediation may still be an option.

The role of mediation

Another alternative to the contentious litigation process is mediation. In divorce mediation, the spouses and their attorneys are generally in different rooms. The mediator goes between the parties and seeks to facilitate a resolution. The mediator is not a judge and does not decide factual disputes. The goal of the mediator is to bring the parties to an agreement that works and they can both live with.

Mediated agreements can be tailored to account for the unique circumstances and needs of the parties. These agreements offer a faster resolution and often work better for the spouses involved.

Litigation will be required in some cases

In some cases, the collaborative approach or mediation are not appropriate. When there are allegations of domestic violence or abuse or evidence exists that one spouse is hiding assets litigation through the courts is necessary.

The litigation process is longer, because it follows formalized timelines. After filing initial documents, then each side has the opportunity to complete discovery and ask for various documents. If there are children, the parents will need to complete co-parenting classes. Motion hearings may slow the process. It also takes time to consult experts and when there is no agreement on an expert a trial may be needed just to decide which of the experts is correct. Following trial, the judge will issue an order. Often neither party is satisfied.

If you are considering divorce, consult a family law attorney in your area who can provide more information on whether a collaborative approach might work in your situation. A lawyer can also assist with negotiations and ensure a final agreement is fair and in your best interests.