There are many ways to divorce in Minnesota. Collaborative Divorce is a process for divorce and is an often misunderstood term. I consider myself to be a collaborative family law attorney in the sense that I advocate for my client while also working to settle unresolved issues without the need for litigation whenever possible. In 2017 most family attorneys in Minnesota are working with clients to achieve a resolution without going to trial. Most attorneys recognize the value of a respectful process which saves clients the time, expense and emotion of litigation. There is, however, a specific process called "Collaborative Divorce" which is different. When people refer to the “Collaborative Divorce Process” they are usually referring to a group of attorneys who are trained to follow a set process with specific rules, guidelines and procedures.
Collaborative divorce, in very general terms, is a process where each party hires an attorney and the attorneys work through specific procedures to attempt to reach a resolution. If the parties do not reach an agreement, the attorneys must withdraw from representation and new attorneys must be hired to proceed through the court system. The parties essentially start over with new attorneys if the collaborative process doesn’t result in an agreement. The philosophy is that when people are invested in reaching an agreement without going to court, they are more likely to be successful. If you want to continue representation with your attorney, the collaborative process is not the right option for you.
The Collaborative Divorce Process can be an expensive process because both parties have their own attorneys and usually a financial neutral is hired to provide financial analysis and child specialists or a parenting coach is hired to provide insight on parenting issues. People who can afford this process may find it appealing. There are other more cost-effective processes to divorce without litigation, while also taking advantage of input from financial professionals and parenting experts.
Mediation and the Early Neutral process are other options which offer parties the opportunity to participate in a process that is respectful and amicable while also allowing an attorney to continue representation if an agreement on all issues isn’t reached through settlement. The ENE process provides an opportunity to take advantage of input from some of the best financial professionals, experienced family law attorneys, and child specialists for a reduced fee. For more information about the ENE process and mediation, please see our other articles.
Minnesota family courts have evolved in recent years and have fully embraced and support spouses reaching settlement agreements. Judges would prefer that parties maintain the decision-making power over their personal financial and parenting decisions rather than give them over to a judge. While the collaborative divorce process is one process for dissolving a marriage respectfully, there are other options which may be less expensive and less time-consuming. If you have questions about the different processes and your options for dissolving a marriage in Minnesota, please contact us for a free initial consultation.