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The Best Divorce Possible
There are two ways to end a marriage in Ohio: Dissolution and Divorce.
Dissolutions are granted by courts to those couples who have been able to reach all of their agreements in advance; divorces are available for couples who cannot agree in advance, and who require a court to force decisions upon themselves. Once divorcing parties realize that the court has this power, they are, more often than not, inclined to find a way to reach an agreement, but only after they have found themselves in a courtroom before a judge.
Collaborative Law (also referred to as Collaborative Divorce, Collaborative Practice, and Collaborative Family Law) is one of several alternative dispute resolution methods frequently utilized by couples who wish to end their marriage and reach agreements in advance, before asking a court to dissolve their marriage. Each spouse hires his or her own Collaborative attorney. As an alternative to the Collaborative Process, couples often seek the assistance of a single attorney mediator, who will function as a neutral, and who will not provide slanted legal advice to one or the other party. The neutral, however, cannot help the couple petition a court for Dissolution; that, they will have to do themselves, or find legal assistance elsewhere, other than the mediator’s office.
I personally believe that Collaborative Law offers couples the "best possible divorce". Each spouse has the benefit of legal counsel regarding very important legal rights; however, those lawyers are not hired to litigate in an adversary manner. The lawyers’ representation is limited to advocacy in Collaborative negotiations and then filing the Dissolution papers at the conclusion of the negotiation.
Some couples do not wish to limit the scope of their attorneys’ representation. Some couples want their attorneys to negotiate a settlement and, if that doesn’t work out, to also be able to go to court with them to convince a judge of the validity of his or her position on any number of issues that need to be decided for them. I do not think this is "the best possible divorce". I know that if it is not a Collaborative case, that there is trial strategy embedded in all discussions and, that the inherent nature of litigation limits the degree of transparency in every conversation. Both clients and attorneys are constantly on guard against missteps and misstatements. Because one never knows when one might be in the courtroom litigating, positions are established early, and time and money are wasted waiting for the other side "to blink" first. Collaborative Practice, on the other hand, gets right to the heart of the matter, and focuses on what is most important to you the client, sooner rather than later. That is the best divorce possible.
In any Ohio divorce, the court orders an equitable, but not necessarily equal, division of property acquired during the marriage. The court does not divide any property acquired before the spouses married. Therefore, it is important to document what property the spouses own and when each acquired it.
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