What Happens if a Collaborative Divorce Process Breaks Down?

A joint split is often initiated with respectful resolution in mind; that’s why it can be surprising, and even hurtful, when collaborative divorce fails miserably. To paraphrase an old proverb: even the road to litigation is paved with good intentions (well, sometimes). Although the cooperative route largely provides a positive path for most divorcees, it doesn’t work for all. Here’s what to expect when the collaborative divorce process breaks down.

Why the Collaborative Divorce Process Might Fail

The collaborative process starts with a pledge to cooperatively settle a divorce outside of court. This oath is more than just an agreement – it’s a signed document that both parties agree to abide. Foremost, the process and the pledge require honesty and respect from both spouses.

A two-way resolution can easily crumble if either half of the team withholds important information or makes general communication near impossible with a bad attitude or any stalling maneuver. Here are some examples of potential roadblocks related to one or both parties that could get in the way of an amicable outcome:

Withholding important documents

To keep the process moving, both parties should provide essential documents, such as financial affidavits, etc., in a timely fashion. Failure to do so could affect one spouse’s expectations regarding an acceptable timeline for divorce, leading him or her to pursue litigation instead.

Lying or providing inaccurate information

While providing necessary documentation is essential, it’s just as important that the information provided is accurate. Falsifying documents or being untruthful during collaborative meetings could lead the offended party to terminate the process.

Failing to appear at scheduled meetings

This delay tactic gets in the way of any real progress since scheduled meetings are often used for both the communication and the exchange of key documents that move the divorce along. When one side of the team excessively misses meetings they show the others that they aren’t committed to the collaborative process.

Enlisting Mediators and Other Collaborative Professionals

In some cases, the collaborative process isn’t completely broken, but instead needs mending. Specialists, such as financial advisors or even psychologists, can be added to the mix to help repair the emotional wreckage. Trained collaborative professionals can offer third-party insight that often mediates potential conflicts while mitigating the risk of trial. As both referees and advisors, these experts may bring a team back together.

Attorney Withdrawal: Hiring a New Divorce Lawyer

However, if the collaborative process fails, new arrangements must be made. Since the collaborative pledge to avoid litigation is a formal agreement, special considerations must be made if the contract is broken.

Specifically, both lawyers must withdraw from the case and may no longer legally represent either party. That’s because the information that’s exchanged in the collaborative process is confidential or privileged. The agreement holds that in the case of litigation, neither attorney should have an advantage over the opposite party.

Did the collaborative process break down for you? Ready to make your next move? Contact Dean G. Tsourakis today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced divorce attorney.