Want to make your divorce as stress-free as possible?

Deciding to split from a spouse is a big decision, but you have decided it is the right choice for you. Just because you have settled on divorce does not mean you want a bunch of drama. In fact, you would like to avoid as much fighting and stress as possible.

A good option may be an alternative dispute resolution like a collaborative law divorce. Here is what you need to know about the process and whether it may work for you.

You must be on the same page

Before you can move forward with a collaborative law divorce, you and your soon-to-be ex must both agree to the process. A collaborative law approach requires that you work together, so it will not work if one partner is not on board.

You each hire an attorney

During a collaborative law divorce, you and your former spouse are both represented by an attorney. You will want to find an attorney that is experienced in the collaborative law process. However, rather than going to court, you, your former partner and your attorneys meet to negotiate and decide terms.

At the beginning of the process, all four of you sign a document that states if the divorce winds up in court, you must find new attorneys. That encourages you to work together and try to come to compromises.

You communicate your terms

Before you meet with your ex, you and your attorney should discuss what assets you want, how you want to handle custody and whether you expect to pay or receive spousal support. It is important for your attorney to know what you want so he or she can represent your interests.

You meet to negotiate the terms of your divorce

Then you and your former spouse meet to decide the terms of your divorce. Unlike a courtroom, a collaborative law divorce is a non-adversarial process. You and your ex are not pitted against each other. Rather, you and your attorneys are working together to agree to a mutually decided upon agreement. At each meeting, you should be moving closer and closer toward a settlement agreement.

You may need some professionals

In some cases, you may need to hire some professionals to settle certain aspects. That could include a financial planner or a child specialist if you share children. This helps settle any particularly complex matters.

You settle quicker

Generally, the collaborative law process settles much quicker than taking a divorce to court. Since it is quicker, it usually costs much less as well. It also allows you and your ex to settle the terms of the divorce as you see fit.

This non-adversarial process is a good way to cut some of the drama and stress from a divorce. However, if you are concerned your former spouse may be hiding assets, collaborative law may not be for you. Additionally, if your former partner was emotionally or physically abusive, a collaborative law divorce is probably not a good idea.