Collaborative Divorce FAQ with Attorney Kathryn Grigg

September 3, 2013

Kathryn Grigg is an attorney at Axley with an extensive family law practice. She provides expert counsel and advice regarding divorce, legal separation, child custody and placement, child support, removal, paternity, spousal support, prenuptial agreements and co-tenancy agreements. As a certified collaborative attorney, Ms. Grigg is dedicated to assisting clients maintain greater participation in the process to achieve greater satisfaction. She is also a member of the Collaborate Family Law Council of Wisconsin. 

Below are five major questions she has received on the collaborative divorce process.

Is collaborative divorce cheaper than traditional divorce?

It can be, but not necessarily. Although collaborative divorce avoids the expenses typically associated with litigation (trial, formal discovery, preparing for multiple court appearances, etc.), it utilizes a larger team of hired professionals who participate in multiple settlement conferences with the spouses, individually and collectively. Although the professionals’ fees are typically shared by the spouses, it is possible that the total cost of a collaborative divorce exceeds the total cost of a traditional divorce. The cost of a collaborative divorce depends on the pace and ease at which the spouses can reach an agreement on all issues.

If I do not elect to use the collaborative process, does that mean that my divorce will not be resolved amicably?

Not necessarily. Around 98% of traditional divorces settle, meaning that the spouses were able to reach an agreement without relying on the court to decide. It is entirely possible to reach an amicable resolution in a traditional divorce. However, the traditional divorce process is structured as an adversarial process, in which attorneys advocate for the best result for their clients, based on their client’s desires and needs. By its very nature, the adversarial process promotes discord, because the best result for one spouse may be directly contrary to the best result for the other spouse.

What types of situations are ideally situated for collaborative divorce?

Both spouses must respect one another and be willing to communicate openly and honestly, and without ulterior motives. A collaborative divorce will not be successful if either spouse desires to manipulate or to specifically maximize his or her results to the detriment of the other. Additionally, collaborative divorce may not be appropriate in cases involving extreme domestic violence or extreme mental illness.

Can I participate in a collaborative divorce if my spouse will not agree?

No, both spouses must enter into the collaborative divorce contract at the beginning of the process and each spouse must be represented by a collaborative attorney.

Can we switch to a collaborative divorce if we have already filed for divorce with the court?

Yes, if both spouses agree and retain collaborative attorneys, it is possible to convert a traditional divorce to a collaborative divorce.
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