Collaborative Divorce Avoids Discovery Saves Money and Time, Reduces Stress and Maintains Your Privacy
author | joanne kleiner and bonnie raynes
Collaborative divorce has many benefits. Anyone interested in learning more about or has questions about the Collaborative Process please feel free to contact Joanne Kleiner or Bonnie Raynes, two attorneys dedicated to the Collaborative Process. One benefit that is often overlooked is the privacy factor, because in collaborative divorce, you can avoid the discovery process.
What is “pre-trial discovery”? Better yet, why should you care? Pre-trial discovery is an integral part of the traditional divorce litigation process. It is the way by which one side “discovers” information about the other side. We routinely serve the opposing side with what are known as “standard interrogatories”. Interrogatories are written questions – usually at least 20 pages or so, which you are required to answer within a 30 day period. These can be followed up with “supplemental interrogatories”. In a complex case, there may be depositions as well – your spouse’s attorney asking you questions under oath, in the presence of a court reporter who records everything that is said.
So why should you care about this? Isn’t it your attorney’s job to do all this work? After all, that’s what you’re paying for! Well, the reality is, most of this work will fall on you. Interrogatories request information that you know far better than your attorney – things like your educational background, employment history, assets that you own, money that you owe, etc. You will be asked to produce all kinds of documents – tax returns going back several years, years worth of bank statements, pension statements, credit card statements, insurance policies, paystubs, and the like. Do you have a headache just thinking about this? If depositions become necessary, you will sit in a conference room with your attorney, your spouse’s attorney, your spouse, and a court reporter. Your spouse’s attorney will ask you numerous and detailed questions about the information you’ve supplied in response to the interrogatories. You will probably be asked to furnish even more documentation. Your attorney will be charging you for his/her time, and the court reporter will be charging you per page – and by the way, transcripts are usually double, if not triple-spaced! If you’re envisioning yourself spending hours putting all this together, while incurring untold legal fees, you’re not wrong.
So why is this an argument for using the collaborative process? Easy. The collaborative process does away with all this. Instead of spending hours writing answers to intrusive and often repetitive questions, the parties and their attorneys sit down together and decide what information they all believe is necessary to proceed with the case. The job of gathering the required documentation is divided between you and your spouse. Because you will have signed an agreement promising to make full disclosure, there is no need to get years of bank statements, credit card statements and tax returns to make sure nothing is being hidden. Depositions are non-existent. Think of the savings, both in fees, and your own time. Imagine the headaches and aggravation you’ll avoid. Many people, while engaged in the discovery process, feel resentful, stressed and even that their privacy is being violated. Isn’t it nice to know that it doesn’t have to be this way? Consider the benefits of collaborative divorce. If you decide the collaborative process is right for you and your family, make sure you select an attorney committed to working collaboratively.