Tennessee Divorce Information Center
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A collaborative divorce is an alternative for divorcing spouses wishing to reach a divorce settlement outside of court. A collaborative divorce, also known as collaborative law or collaborative practice, is a legal process that enables couples who have decided to divorce or separate to work with their lawyers and, on occasion, financial advisers and other family professionals, in order to avoid the expense, stress, and uncertain outcomes of divorce litigation. This enables them to reach a fair and reasonable divorce settlement that best meets the specific needs of both spouses and their children without the underlying threat of litigation.
Collaborative divorce is a voluntary process that is initiated when the divorcing spouses sign a participation agreement binding each other to the collaborative divorce process and disqualifying their respective lawyer’s right to represent them in divorce litigation. Generally, each party is represented throughout the collaborative process by their own attorney. The attorneys do not participate in contested court proceedings. Instead, the divorce attorneys focus exclusively on helping their clients understand and resolve their legal issues through cooperative negotiations. Because dispute resolution in divorce is not just about “the law”, the collaborative divorce process uses an integrated team composed of collaborative divorce attorneys, mental health professionals, and a neutral financial expert. The mental health professionals help the divorcing spouses and their children deal with personal, emotional, and parenting concerns. The neutral financial expert helps the divorcing spouses to organize data and understand the financial issues relating to their divorce. The collaborative divorce process offers more structure than divorce mediation, and may cost more, depending on circumstances. However, a collaborative divorce is generally less expensive than a litigated divorce. Click the following links learn more about our Collaborative Divorce Process, Collaborative Divorce FAQs, Collaborative Divorce Prices, and Collaborative Divorce Packages.
Our Collaborative Divorce Packages
$2400 Attorney Fee
plus $325 Court Filing
No Minor Children
No Joint Assets/ Debts
No Minor Children
With Joint Assets/ Debts
With Minor Children
No Joint Assets/ Debts
With Minor Children
With Joint Assets/ Debts
$2800 Attorney Fee
plus $325 Court Filing
$3200 Attorney Fee
plus $425 Court Filing
$3600 Attorney Fee
plus $425 Court Filing
Don't worry if you can't pay the entire attorney fee and court costs upfront...we offer flexible payment plans that fit almost any budget! Click the following link to learn about our Payment Plans.
The Walls Law Firm provides representation in collaborative divorces in Shelby County, Tennessee (including Memphis, Cordova, Germantown, Cordova, Lakeland, Shelby Farms, Collierville, Millington, and other surrounding cities). Going through a contested divorce can be difficult, but it does not have to be devastating.
Why You Should Choose a Collaborative Divorce Over Divorce Litigation to Resolve Your Contested Divorce
In Tennessee, a contested divorce is a divorce in which divorcing spouses have not reached an agreement on one or more issues relating to the divorce. Generally, what determines whether or not your contested divorce is going to be lengthy, expensive, and hostile is how you approach your contested divorce. The manner in which you choose to approach your contested divorce can facilitate your spouse to be reasonable and remain amicable throughout the divorce process or send them into a seemingly never ending downward spiral of vindictiveness and hostility.
You do not have to have a highly litigated divorce just because your divorce is contested. You can choose a Collaborative Divorce to assist you in reaching a fair and reasonable agreement. Collaborative Divorce typically saves divorcing spouses an immense amount of money that would have been unceessarily spent on attorney fees, expert witnesses, and court costs. In addition, Collaborative Divorce helps to reduce the hostility between divorcing spouses. This is very important if you and your spouse have minor children as you will need to be able to work together to co-parent your children.
Proceeding with a litigated contested divorce is likely to be long, expensive, stressful, and risky. If your divorce case has to be resolved by a contested divorce trial, then there is the possibility that you may receive more or less than what you and your spouse may have been able to agree on. As part of preparing for a contested divorce trial, it may also become necessary to conduct additional “discovery” to uncover additional financial information from your spouse, their employer, banks or other financial institutions, etc. Preparing your case for trial is a lengthy process that may involve hiring expert witnesses (accountants, consultants, child custody evaluator, etc.) or a Guardian ad Litem, (if there are children involved), taking depositions of key witnesses or your spouse, conducting additional discovery, and requesting and conducting pre-trial hearings.
Please note that contested divorces that are litigated in which formal discovery, pendent lite hearings, and/ or a contested trial is necessary average $15k to $30k in legal fees. Thus, prior to deciding to litigate your divorce, it is important that you take time to consider whether or not a litigated divorce is something that you can take on emotionally and financially. When you schedule a Divorce Planning Session, we can help you develop a unique divorce strategy that takes into account your goals and finances.
Collaborative Divorce Process
At the Walls Law Firm, we approach divorces very differently than most family law firms. The traditional divorce litigation process usually results in increasing the hostility between the parties. At the Walls Law Firm, we utilize Collaborative Divorce to help divorcing spouses negotiate a divorce settlement. The Walls Law Firm's approach to contested divorces is aimed at reducing hostility between the divorcing parties so that they can work together to reach a fair and reasonable divorce settlement. Please note that the goal of a fair and reasonable divorce settlement is to get what you are entitled to, and not "make your spouse pay". Attempting to "make your spouse pay" will likely only result in you paying more in legal fees and being stressed out beyond measure.
The Walls Law Firm serves a unique type of client...people who are looking to obtain a divorce with dignity. Choosing to divorce with dignity means being willing to put forth a good faith effort to negotiate a fair and reasonable divorce settlement with your spouse. It also means being willing to remain amicable and treat your spouse with the respect and compassion you wish to receive throughout the divorce process.
To get your Collaborative Divorce started, you will need to schedule a Divorce Planning Session with our Memphis Divorce attorney. During your Divorce Planning Session, our divorce attorney will listen to your concerns, and help you develop a divorce strategy to meet your goals. If you decide to move forward with us representing you during your Collaborative Divorce, then our divorce attorney will provide you with a flat fee for us to handle your collaborative divorce through mediation. We charge a flat fee for your collaborative divorce to be handled through mediation as the majority of divorces are resolved by mediation. During the Divorce Planning Session, we will provide you an Attorney-Client Agreement that details the terms of our representation.
After you have signed the Attorney-Client Agreement and paid the required attorney fee, we will inform your spouse that we are representing you and request that he/she participate in an informal divorce settlement conference. A divorce settlement conference is a meeting between divorcing spouses and their attorneys during which the parties work together to try to reach an agreement on all the issues regarding their divorce, such as spousal support, the division of marital assets and debts, child support, time sharing, and parenting responsibilities. The benefit of reaching an agreement during a divorce settlement conference is that it eliminates the need for a stressful, expensive, lengthy, hostile, and public contested divorce proceeding.
If we are unable to reach a settlement after going back and forth with your spouse or their attorney several times, it may become apparent that we will need a neutral third party to assist us in reaching an agreement. At that point, we may choose to attend mediation. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution, in which there is an attempt to settle a legal dispute through active participation of a neutral third party (known as a mediator) who works to help those in conflict agree on a fair resolution. In Tennessee, parties are required to attend mediation prior to going to trial. The majority of contested divorces are resolved during mediation. Thus, we typically advise parties to attempt mediation prior to filing a Complaint for Divorce. However, it is important to note that more than one mediation session may be needed to resolve some divorce issues.
Collaborative Divorce Packages
To qualify for one of our Collaborative Divorce packages, you and your spouse must meet all of the following requirements:
1. Voluntarily disclose your assets, debts, income, and financial interests to one another;
2. Be willing to utilize alternative dispute resolution methods to reach a fair and reasonable divorce settlement;
3. Voluntarily sign all uncontested divorce documents detailing the negotiated agreement;
4. Waive service of process; and
5. Attend the mandatory Parent Educational Seminar if the parties have minor children together.
When you purchase one of our Collaborative Divorce Packages, here's what you get:
We begin with a confidential divorce planning session with our Memphis divorce attorney;
We inform you how to proceed;
We contact your spouse to request that your spouse and his/her attorney (if represented) participate in an informal divorce settlement conference (also known as a 4-way meeting) to attempt to negotiate a divorce settlement;
We schedule your divorce settlement conference;
We prepare for your divorce settlement conference;
We represent you during your divorce settlement conference;
We contact your spouse to request that your spouse and his/her attorney (if represented) participate in divorce mediation to attempt to reach an agreement with the help of a neutral third party (known as a mediator) if you and your spouse did not reach an agreement during the divorce settlement conference;
We schedule your divorce mediation;
We prepare for your divorce mediation;
We represent you during your divorce mediation;
We prepare your divorce documents based off your agreement with your spouse if you reach an agreement;
We provide you and your spouse with a copy of your divorce documents in pdf format for review;
We schedule a time for you and your spouse to come to our office to execute your divorce documents;
We provide you with a copy of your executed divorce documents in pdf format;
We file your divorce documents with the court (filing fee not included);
We schedule your final uncontested divorce hearing;
We prepare for your final uncontested divorce hearing;
We represent you in court during your final uncontested divorce hearing;
We provide you and your spouse a copy of your final decree of divorce in pdf format; and
We provide you access to our e-book entitled "About Divorce: A Guide for Clients".
Collaborative Divorce Packages prices: The prices for our Collaborative Divorce packages vary depending on:
Whether or not you and your spouse have minor or dependent children together;
Whether you and your spouse have joint assets and/or joint debts; and
The complexity of your case.
Starting prices for our Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee Collaborative Divorce Packages:
No minor or dependent children, No marital assets or debts - $2400
No minor or dependent children, With marital assets or debts - $2800
With minor or dependent children, No marital assets or debts - $3200
With minor or dependent children, With marital assets or debts - $3600
Our Collaborative Divorce Packages provide representation from the beginning of your divorce until the conclusion of the first mediation session, as the majority of divorces are settled during mediation. Divorce packages do not include pretrial hearings, motions, formal discovery, trials, filing fees, court costs, or expenses. The filing fee/ expenses for a divorce with children in Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee is $425. The filing fee/ expenses for a divorce without children in Memphis and Shelby, County Tennessee is $325. The filing fees are paid to the court clerk. Click here to schedule a Divorce Planning Session with our Memphis divorce attorney.
FAQ about Collaborative Divorce in Tennessee
The most helpful facts to know about Collaborative Divorce
What are Collaborative Divorce, Collaborative Practice, the collaborative process, and Collaborative Law?
Collaborative Law, Collaborative Process, and Collaborative Divorce are terms often used interchangeably. However, they are all components of Collaborative Practice, which has these key elements: the voluntary and free exchange of information; the pledge not to litigate, and the commitment to resolutions that respect the parties` shared goals. Collaborative Law describes the legal component of Collaborative Practice, made up of the parties and their attorneys. Collaborative Process means the key elements of the process itself.
While “Collaborative Divorce” refers to resolution of particular types of disputes (divorce and domestic partnerships), the other terms can also apply to disputes involving employment law, probate law, construction law, real property law, and other civil law areas where the parties are likely to have continuing relationships after the current conflict has been resolved.
What is the difference between Collaborative Divorce and Divorce Mediation?
In divorce mediation, an impartial third party (the mediator) facilitates the negotiations of the disputing parties and tries to help them reach a fair and reasonable divorce settlement. However, the mediator cannot give either party legal advice, and cannot be an advocate for either side. If there are lawyers for the parties, they may or may not be present at the divorce mediation sessions, but if they are not present, the parties can consult their counsel between divorce mediation sessions. Once an agreement is reached, a draft of Marital Dissolution Agreement (and a Permanent Parenting Plan Order if the divorcing spouses have a minor child in common) including the divorce settlement terms is usually prepared by the mediator for review and editing by the parties and their counsel.
The Collaborative Divorce process was designed to allow clients to have their lawyers with them during the negotiation process, while maintaining the same commitment to reaching a divorce settlement as the sole agenda. It is the job of the divorce lawyers, who have received training similar to the training that mediators receive in interest-based negotiation, to work with their own clients and one another to assure that the process stays balanced, positive and productive. Once a fair and reasonable divorce agreement is reached, a Marital Dissolution Agreement (and a Permanent Parenting Plan Order if the divorcing spouses have a minor child in common) is drafted by the divorce lawyers and reviewed and edited by the both divorce lawyers and the parties, until both parties are satisfied with the document.
Both Collaborative Divorce and divorce mediation rely on the voluntary and free exchange of information and a commitment to resolutions that respect the parties` shared goals. If divorce mediation does not result in a settlement, the parties may choose to use their counsel in litigation, if this is consistent with the scope of representation upon which the client and lawyer have agreed. In a Collaborative Divorce, the lawyers and parties sign an agreement, which aligns everyone’s interests in the direction of reaching a fair and reasonable divorce settlement, and specifically provides that the collaborative divorce attorneys and any other professional team members will be disqualified from participating in divorce litigation if the collaborative divorce process is terminated without an agreement being reached. Professional advice should be sought when deciding whether divorce mediation or Collaborative Divorce is the best process for your particular divorce case.
What is a "Collaborative Team" in a Collaborative Divorce?
The premise of the "collaborative team" is that parties and their chosen professionals act as a problem-solving team rather than as adversaries. A collaborative team can be any combination of professionals that the parties choose to work with to resolve their dispute. It can be just the parties and their collaborative divorce lawyers, which in all cases comprise the Collaborative Law component of Collaborative Divorce. It can be the parties, their collaborative attorneys and a financial professional. It can be the parties and divorce coaches, working as a team either before or after the collaborative attorneys are chosen and the legal process begins.
What is the "Interdisciplinary Team Model" in a Collaborative Divorce?
The interdisciplinary collaborative divorce team model is a multi-disciplinary team approach to dispute resolution, which includes divorce attorneys, coaches, a financial specialist, and when there are minor children, a child specialist working interactively as co-equals. Professionals on the team all subscribe to the same core values and ethical guidelines of collaborative divorce practice, which is that none of the team members will be involved in any court process concerning a shared case, and all members will withdraw from the case if it becomes a court process.
The collaborative divorce team members are selected by the clients at the beginning of the case. The team is ideally made up of the clients; two collaborative divorce lawyers, one for each partner; two divorce coaches/ therapists, one for each partner; a child specialist who represents the voice of the child(ren); and one neutral financial specialist. A key element of the collaborative divorce team approach is that the couple can enter into the collaborative divorce process through any "door"; a couple, for example, might first contact a collaborative divorce coach, a collaborative divorce lawyer or a collaborative financial specialist to begin the process. Regardless of which "door" they enter, the couple will be guided to select their collaborative divorce team. Many teams share a common participation agreement which the clients sign first with their divorce attorneys.
The divorcing couple works with their divorce coaches to enhance their communication skills as well as learn self-management and negotiation skills to help them during their divorce process.
When they first meet individually with their divorce coaches, they work on acquiring the skills and knowledge they will need to have successful four-way meetings with their coaches as well as with their collaborative divorce lawyers. During these meetings the couple learns how to communicate their concerns effectively and discuss options for their parenting plan. These four-way meetings are not only crucial in helping the couple to work with the rest of the team during the divorce process, but can assist them in improving their co-parenting relationship as well.
During this process, the child specialist talks with the parents and meets with the child to assess the child`s needs and concerns. The child specialist also assists the parents in recognizing and meeting the developmental needs of the child, while providing the child a voice in the divorce process. Unlike a custody evaluator, the child specialist does not make specific recommendations, but works with the coaches and the parents in making informed decisions to help their child. This information that the child specialist provides is essential not only for parents, but for the entire team as well.
With the information received from the child specialist, the couple, with the help of their coaches, will craft the parenting plan which is then incorporated into their final divorce document, also known as a Marital Dissolution Agreement.
The neutral financial specialist meets with the divorcing couple and helps them begin their dialogue around financial issues, while assisting them in gathering all the necessary financial information. The financial specialist works closely with the couple and their respective divorce lawyers in understanding both present and future financial consequences of various possible settlement options. Often this information is presented in a five-way meeting with the financial specialist, the two collaborative divorce lawyers, and the couple where the options are discussed. Then the couple, along with their divorce attorneys, crafts their financial settlement.
The process may be coordinated by a case manager - usually one of the divorce coaches. This professional acts as a case coordinator to keep all the team members informed and the process on track.
This integrated model provides the couple with the services they need from the professional most qualified to address the complex issues of divorce. Working together, these collaborative professionals help divorcing couples achieve an outcome that would not be possible without this cooperative team involvement.
The team approach can also be adapted to disputes other than divorces and termination of domestic partnerships.
What is the difference between Collaborative Divorce and conventional divorce?
In conventional divorce, one spouse sues the other for divorce and sets in motion a series of legal steps. These eventually result in a resolution achieved with the involvement of the court. Unfortunately, spouses going through a conventional divorce can come to view each other as adversaries, and their divorce as a battleground. The ensuing conflicts can take an immense toll on the emotions of all the participants, especially the children. In addition, conventional divorce tends to be more expensive and lengthier than a collaborative divorce.
Collaborative Divorce, by definition, is a non-adversarial approach to divorce. The spouses—and their lawyers—pledge in writing not to go to court. They negotiate in good faith, and achieve a mutually-agreed upon divorce settlement outside of court. The cooperative nature of Collaborative Divorce can greatly ease the emotional strain caused by the breakup of a relationship, and protect the well-being of children.
Is Collaborative Practice an option for LGBT People?
Yes, a same gender couple divorcing their Tennessee or out-of-state or foreign marriage or domestic partnership can equally benefit from Collaborative Practice. Even unmarried parents, who need to make decisions about their children, such as custody following a break-up of the adults’ relationship, can equally use Collaborative Practice.
What does Collaborative Divorce do to minimize the hostility often present in divorce?
A Collaborative Divorce is guided by a very important principle: respect. By setting a respectful tone, a Collaborative Divorce encourages the divorcing spouses to demonstrate compassion, understanding and cooperation. In addition, collaborative divorce professionals are trained in non-confrontational negotiation to help keep discussions productive. The goal of Collaborative Divorce is to build a settlement on areas of agreement, not to perpetuate disagreement.
How does Collaborative Divorce actually work?
When a couple decides to pursue a Collaborative Divorce, they each hire collaborative divorce lawyers. All of the parties agree in writing not to go to court. Then, the spouses meet both privately with their lawyers and in face-to-face discussions. Additional experts, such as divorce coaches and child and financial specialists, may join the process, or in many cases, be the first professional that a client sees. These sessions between spouses and their counselors are intended to produce an honest exchange of information and expression of needs and expectations. The well-being of any children is especially addressed. Mutual problem-solving by all the parties leads to the final divorce agreement. A similar process, and result, is found in other types of disputes.
Is Collaborative Divorce a faster way to reach an acceptable divorce settlement?
Individual circumstances determine how quickly any dispute resolution process proceeds. However, Collaborative Divorce can be a more direct and efficient form of resolution. From the start, it focuses on problem solving, instead of blaming or endlessly airing grievances. Full disclosure and open communications help to assure that all issues are discussed in a timely manner. Finally, because settlement is reached out of court, there is no waiting for the multiple court appearances that may be necessary with conventional litigation.
How does Collaborative Divorce focus on the future?
Divorce and termination of domestic partnerships are both an ending and a beginning. Collaborative Divorce helps each spouse/partner anticipate their needs in moving forward, and include these in the discussions. When children are involved, Collaborative Divorce makes your children’s future a number one priority. As a more respectful, dignified process, Collaborative Divorce helps families make a smoother transition to the next stage of their lives.
The Four Core Areas of Divorce
Throughout the divorce process, you will have to make many decisions that may have an immense effect on you, your finances, and your children. There are four core areas that you will have to make decisions regarding. They are child custody and visitation, child support, the division of marital property, and spousal support. Click the links below to learn more about each of the core areas of a divorce.
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12 important steps to take when contemplating divorce,
How to determine whether or not you need a divorce lawyer,
How to choose the right divorce lawyer for you,
How to save on attorney fees and court costs,
How child custody is determined in Tennessee,
How child visitation is determined in Tennessee,
How child support is determined in Tennessee,
How alimony is determined in Tennessee,
How property is divided in a Tennessee divorce,
How to maintain control throughout the divorce process,
How to reduce tension between you and your spouse,
How to protect your finances throughout the divorce process, and
How to protect your children throughout the divorce process.