In previous postings, I’ve talked about starting and managing collaborative family law cases. Today’s discussion is about wrapping things up.
In my experience, “the end” in a collaborative family law case is almost always bittersweet. On the one hand, the spouses are relieved that they have sorted out their legal issues and don’t need to worry anymore about being sued. On the other hand, they realize that they are no longer spouses to each other and must move on with their lives.
In collaborative family law, most agreements are not binding until they’ve been formally executed. Therefore, once the spouses have agreed on a settlement, it’s important for the lawyers to act quickly to bring the matter to its formal conclusion.
Usually the final settlement agreement is written as a separation agreement with a few tweaks. Basic background information, such as the dates of marriage and separation, will of course be stated. The final agreement will confirm that both spouses have chosen the collaborative process and that each spouse has been aided by his or her own lawyer. Other professionals who have helped the couple during the process will also be specified along with the tasks they have performed.
If there are children involved, a separate parenting plan may be attached as an exhibit to the agreement. The parenting plan may be drafted by the child specialist or the divorce coach who has worked with the parents extensively as part of the collaborative process. Invariably, there will be clauses stating that the parents will remain flexible to accommodate special circumstances, such as illness and school events, and put the best interests of the children above their own.
Finally, there is almost always a special paragraph where the spouses acknowledge that they have been advised of the relevant laws and understand that their decisions as outlined in the settlement may differ from those adjudicated by the court system.
This blog is provided for educational purposes and for your reference. It is not intended as legal advice and should not be regarded as such. The law may have changed since the publication of this article.