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New York Collaborative Divorce Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is collaborative divorce in New York?

A. Collaborative divorce is a relatively new process in New York where spouses who cannot agree to key issues in their divorce can work through them in a problem-solving process rather than prepare for litigation.

Q. Would an attorney represent me in a collaborative divorce?

A. Each spouse hires a New York attorney who is trained in the collaborative divorce process. Should the couple give up on the collaborative process and decide to go to trial, they must get different attorneys. Therefore, the attorneys have no motivation to litigate.

Q. What kind of issues would we try to solve in the collaborative process?

A. Couples can work through all the key issues involved in divorce such as property distribution, debt allocation, alimony, child custody, child visitation and child support.

Q. Is collaborative divorce faster than contested divorce?

A. Collaborative divorce can be much faster than contested divorce, because the parties are working together toward solutions rather than putting hurdles in each other’s paths. The process is based on full disclosure and open communications, so there is no time spent hiding information or trying to ferret out hidden information from the other party. Also, all the meetings are held at the convenience of the parties, so there is no need to get on the court’s schedule multiple times.

Q. Is collaborative divorce less stressful and less hostile than contested divorce?

A. Collaborative divorce is a much less hostile process, which is particularly important if a couple has children, and therefore must have some sort of ongoing relationship in the future. When contested divorces settle, it is usually when they are almost ready to go to trial, which is stressful and expensive for both parties.

Q. How is a collaborative divorce different from settlement negotiations between divorce attorneys?

A. The entire process is different. Here are some of the ways:

  • When divorce attorneys are negotiating a settlement, they are also preparing for trial, which is an expensive and time-consuming process. There is no specter of a trial at the end of the New York collaborative divorce process.
  • Everything is transparent in a collaborative divorce, and communications are open. There is no angling to take advantage of a mistake made by the other party.
  • If custody is an issue, you don’t go through the professional custody evaluation process of a traditional divorce.
  • You share the same experts, such as accountants, appraisers and mental health professional rather than each of you hiring your own.
  • There is a genuine effort to reach an agreement that satisfies both parties rather than one party threatening the other with a big loss at trial.
  • As previously stated, should the collaborative process break down, the New York collaborative divorce attorneys must withdraw.
  • There is a parity of attorney fees, so the wealthier party does not have an advantage in representation over the other party, which is common in traditional contested divorces.
Q. What if we try collaborative divorce but still can’t reach agreement?

A. If you cannot reach an agreement, you can still have a contested divorce in New York, but you are required to use different attorneys.

Q. What does collaborative divorce cost?

A. As with any kind of divorce, much depends upon your specific circumstances. However, collaborative divorce generally costs 80 percent to 90 percent less than contested divorce.

Q. Do I have to give my spouse my financial information in collaborative divorce?

A. You will be required to produce financial information in both a collaborative and a contested divorce. However, the process is usually faster and less expensive in collaborative divorce.

Q. What happens if one side is dishonest in collaborative divorce?

A. No matter what kind of divorce you choose, there is always a chance the other party could be dishonest, and not provide all information about finances and assets. If an attorney finds their client is dishonest or not acting in good faith, that attorney must withdraw from representing the client.

Client Reviews
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My ex-husband hadn't paid child support or the mortgage on the house as he was supposed to. Stephen Bilkis and his team of lawyers were amazing. They stopped the foreclosure on the house, Got a judgment against him and most importantly kept me and my children in the house. Can't say enough good things about him in the firm their compassion hard work and dedication were exceptional. I.G.
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