By Mary Ellen Flynn, Esq., 301.563.6685
Many divorcing couples are worried that they will not be able to move forward in their divorces due to the courts being closed and everyone having to shelter-in. However, the Collaborative Law Process provides a way that you can reach an agreement with your estranged spouse even during this public health crisis. Collaborative Law has always been the most effective and cost-efficient way of getting separated and divorced, and this is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When going through a divorce and separation, your primary objective is to agree on a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA). By agreeing to and signing an MSA, you will resolve all issues regarding your children, asset and debt division, child support, and alimony.
Through the Collaborative Law Process, you and your spouse with each of your lawyers present will decide on:
- what are the issues that need resolution;
- what information is necessary for your discussions; and
- how to resolve those issues.
The lawyers are trained in Collaborative Law and will facilitate the discussions, provide legal advice and options, and draft your MSA.
Fortunately, with technology, we’re able to continue having Collaborative Law Meetings even while everyone is sheltering in. During the shelter-in order, I’m doing Collaborative Law Meetings by video instead of sitting around a conference room table. And instead of using an easel to share options and information, we’re sharing screens. Fortunately, I was already participating in “remote” Collaborative Law due to clients or opposing parties living abroad, so my technology was already in place.
When you reach a Marital Settlement Agreement or a Custody Agreement through the Collaborative Law Process, that agreement is going to be sustainable because it’s what you and your ex created. By reaching an agreement with your ex that you both believe to be fair, you avoid years and years of court proceedings of appeals, modifications, and enforcement actions. Through the Collaborative Process, you can be as creative as you want to be and need to be to resolve your situation. Another benefit of Collaborative Law is that you’ll be able to tolerate and possibly even be comfortable being in the same room as your ex. Being able to tolerate and communicate with your spouse is especially important if you have children in common. As I tell my clients who are parents, using Collaborative Law is the best gift they can give to their children.
The Collaborative Law Process requires the dedication of both parties to be civil, cooperative, and candid. But just because your spouse had an affair or betrayed you another way, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give Collaborative Law a try. If there are emotions of anger and betrayal, you can hire one or two mental health professionals to act as coaches in the Collaborative Process. The coach(es) will help you and your spouse deal with those emotions so that you can move forward in finding solutions to your issues.
Through the Collaborative Law Process, you and your spouse will learn from their lawyers and other professionals how the laws and taxes apply to their situation. Each of you will participate in the discussions and make the decisions in an informed, calm, and educated way. The options that you can generate through the Collaborative Process to resolve who lives where, how to pay expenses, and how assets are going to be shared are endless.
When using the Collaborative Law Process, there are no summonses, subpoenas, depositions, or hearing on motions. As a result, you will save thousands of dollars, and you do not need the Courts to be open. Instead, when you need the information to resolve any issues, you and your spouse share that information (such as account statements, pension plans, and budgets) freely and in an open setting.
For all of these reasons and more, the Collaborative Law Process is the best way to work out a settlement with your spouse and move forward in your divorce, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are interested in learning more about how the Collaborative Law Process could apply to your situation and help you move forward in your divorce, please contact me.
Andalman & Flynn, P.C. serves clients throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia, offering compassionate, quality service and results-driven representation across a broad range of legal areas. With a concentration on disability benefits law and family law, the firm focuses on cases that impact the rights of everyone, and they are there for clients when responsive legal help is most critical. For more information about Andalman & Flynn, please visit our website or call 301.563.6685.