Cooperative divorce

Yes, there is such a thing as cooperative divorce. Cooperative divorce is a term which describes an approach divorce that parties agree to prior to beginning the process. In Cooperative Divorce, both Husband and Wife sign a document committing themselves to working cooperatively with each other at the start of the process.

In the traditional divorce model, one party hires a lawyer who drafts documents to initiate a divorce case in court known as a summons and petition. Once those documents are filed, the parties typically proceed to an initial hearing and then to some type of mediation. Whether the parties cooperate with one another in the early stages of a divorce case is generally left up to the parties and their attorneys. While most cases proceed in a generally amicable fashion, the adversarial nature of our legal system often engenders some suspicion of each parties’ motives, especially when issues such as custody or spousal maintenance are disputed. In addition to increases stress and anxiety, a hotly contested divorce case also tends to cost the parties more money than a cooperative case.

In a cooperative case, the parties agree to a cooperative process at the on-set of the case. The cornerstone of that process is openness, which is set forth in a document the parties sign called a participation agreement. In that document, the parties create a road map for the process, and attempt to determine what professionals they might need to assist them. These neutral professions could include a parenting specialist, financial consultant, or mortgage expert.

As a member of the Cooperative Practice Network of Minnesota, I know that cooperative practice is not for every couple. However, if the parties each have an amicable mindset at the on-set of the case, a cooperative divorce can save the parties money and result in a durable agreement that can help harmonize relations after the divorce.

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