It can be difficult for couples with complex estates to know what kind of divorce is best for their situation. Collaborative Divorce may provide a more constructive, private, and cost-efficient process for many people with complex assets and property division issues.
How does the collaborative process help divorcing couples?
The collaborative process is very helpful to husbands and wives for many reasons. One reason one is that it allows them privacy. In the collaborative process, the husband and the wife enter into an agreement to stay out of court. The Collaborative Divorce is done privately in a series of scheduled meetings and negotiations, rather than in a public courtroom. Also the Collaborative Process allows the spouses, their lawyers, and neutral professionals to assist them in valuing their estate and making informed decisions about how to divide their estate.
One of the many advantages of the Collaborative Process for people with a complex property case is that it allows the spouses to hire joint experts, whether CPAs, tax lawyers, business valuators, real estate appraisers, to help the husband and wife with the process of dividing up their property.
How is the Collaborative Divorce process different from litigation?
A collaborative approach to divorce is very different from the litigation process where each side hires their own experts, doubling the costs, because the lawyers and the experts spend a lot of time and money fighting, trying to figure out which expert is right. Instead, in a Collaborative Divorce, the single expert hired by both sides works with the husband and wife to help them find solutions to value their property and divide their estate.
One of the other benefits is the husband and the wife have control of the process. When you litigate, you go to court, and a judge who doesn’t know you and doesn’t have a lot of time to learn about you will make decisions and divide your estate. These judges often lack the sophistication or the experience to deal with a complex estate. But when you’re in a collaborative case, you can bring in your experts and your team to help you find more creative solutions that you can customize to fit the needs of both the husband and the wife.
I’ve been involved in many collaborative cases involving complex estates with property throughout the world and the United States, some of which started in litigation. After experiencing the financial and emotional expense of litigation, many clients woke up and said, “This is not working for us.” And when they went to the collaborative process, they were much more easily, efficiently, and quickly able to find the answers that allowed them to separate their property and move forward with their lives.
What is an example of a complex estate that achieved a successful outcome with the Collaborative Divorce process?
An example of a complex estate that worked successfully in the collaborative process is a case where I was the attorney for the husband. The couple owned property in two different states and a foreign country and had a family-owned business. Rather than fighting over the values and struggling with how to divide up their estate, they were able to hire a single expert who appraised the business and another expert who appraised the real estate, allowing them to come up with values and find a more amicable solution. Previously, the husband and wife had spent nine months and six figures in attorney fees and expert witnesses in the litigation process and gotten nowhere. Finally, their business lawyer suggested that they stop litigating and hire family lawyers to work in the Collaborative Divorce process. As a result, their Collaborative Divorce took less than four months and cost significantly less than if they continued with the litigation process.
What is your best piece of advice for dividing complex estates in divorce?
My best advice for anyone contemplating Divorce with a complex estate is to first talk with a Collaborative Divorce attorney. Your Collaborative Divorce attorney can explain the process to you and help you weigh out the pros and cons so you can make the best-informed decision about your divorce.
Jeff Shore is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is rated “AV” by his peers which is the highest rating in legal ability and ethical standards. Time as a civil business litigator early in Jeff’s career honed his technical skills and business acumen. He is adept at handling complex property cases involving partnerships, business valuation and asset tracing. When representing business owners, Jeff protects their interests in determining how assets are to be divided. When assisting non-moneyed spouses, he ensures they understand finances and secure resources for their post-divorce lives.
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