Some couples may be able to reach agreements in their divorce through the collaborative divorce process instead of through litigation. This option is suited for couples who believe that they can reach agreement on all the aspects pertinent to their situation, along with the help of their attorneys and other professionals that may be engaged to address complex issues related to children, financial, or assets. In the collaborative divorce process, couples agree to work toward settlement without Court intervention.
Collaborative divorce is a settlement process intended to keep the parties out of court. The focus is on reaching a settlement. From the very start, the parties and their attorneys sign a participation agreement that defines the parameters of the collaborative divorce process. Many couples can reach agreements that allow them to move on peacefully with their lives, even when children or other complex matters are involved.
Once the agreement is signed, the parties and their attorneys cooperate throughout the process, being open and honest so that all relevant information is disclosed. Everything from debt and asset information to other pertinent details must be disclosed and litigation can’t be threatened. Removing the threat of litigation allows the parties to be more transparent as they work together.
Your attorney will help you identify your goals, needs, interests, and other concerns that need to be addressed. Once identified, all parties work toward an agreement that meets the needs of both parties and complies with Minnesota law. Once agreement is reached, the attorneys draft the divorce decree which is then submitted to the court for review and approval.
The attorneys may not be the only parties involved in the process. If necessary, other professionals, such as financial specialists or child specialists are engaged to help reach settlement. A divorce coach may also be utilized. The parties choose who they want to be involved in the process to help them reach an agreement
The early neutral evaluation (ENE) is a process whereby a mutually-agreed-upon third-party neutral evaluator meets with the parties and their attorneys to reach resolution. The difference between mediation and the ENE process is that the evaluator will provide his or her opinion on the issues, which can be helpful in achieving resolution.
The Role of The Mediator
Mediators are unbiased. They don’t take one side or the other. They simply listen to the facts, and they are trained to do so. They are not allowed to give any advice, which is why the mediator can’t be the attorney for either party. An attorney can be a mediator, but they cannot have any ties to either party. The mediator will allow the parties to exchange information, talk, and work toward a solution that suits them both.
The Role of Your Attorney
Typically, your attorney attends the mediation session(s) with you, but this is entirely up to you. Their role is to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the mediation process. Your attorney is an advisor that can provide the guidance to you and to the process during and in between sessions, as well ensure that solutions and agreements comply with Minnesota law.
Moderated settlement conference is a court-ordered meeting or meetings between parties and their attorneys facilitated by a mutually-agreed-upon third-party neutral moderator and is typically held at the courthouse. This is usually done close to the time of trial as a last attempt to settle the case before trial. Parties are expected to be “trial ready” with all information previously exchanged by the parties and their attorneys.