Valentine’s Day usually brings out the warm and fuzzy in all of us, but for some couples, this day is just the beginning of the end. And while you may have thought it was no big deal that you were too busy this year to get a gift or a card for your significant other, you may be wrong. The day after Valentine’s Day kicks off divorce season around the country, with February being the busiest month of the year for divorce attorneys. Divorce is never a happy subject, but luckily if you have to head to splitsville, it doesn’t have to get ugly. While Gwyneth’s “conscious uncoupling” may have made the concept of a no-drama divorce commonplace, the idea of making divorce as peaceful as possible has been around for a while, and officially has another name: “collaborative divorce.”
Collaborative divorce is a legal process for breaking-up that is being used nationwide by divorce attorneys. It’s a non-adversarial alternative (think teamwork approach) to traditional divorce, where each party of the marriage is represented by two “collaborative” attorneys. The parties and their attorneys sign an agreement that they will resolve the divorce without litigation (but if the parties end up litigating, the collaborative process ends). Other members of the team may include a financial expert and mental health professional. Collaborative divorce is a good choice for couples who want to end the marriage smoothly, and is often chosen by high-worth individuals because of the increased privacy the process offers over traditional divorce. Besides sounding more enlightened (shall we say zen) than regular old divorce, it also saves parties time, money, and stress by avoiding court dates and (a lot of) attorneys fees. Many states (FL, NJ Alabama District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Washington) are beginning to pass legislation to ease the process of collaborative divorces.
The Verdict: My name’s Olaf and I like warm hugs. Keep the love alive all year by baking something sweet with your significant other.