Collaborative Divorce in Kentucky

Tags: Kentucky, Collaborative Divorce

By Valerie Keene

Published Aug 10, 2022

In many cases, divorce can be overwhelming and painful. However, just because you are getting divorced, it does not mean that you’ve to wage a legal battle against your partner in court. In Kentucky, collaborative divorce – also known as collaborative practice or collaborative law – is a low-conflict and cooperative approach to terminating your marriage.

If you’re planning to get a divorce in Kentucky, collaborative divorce is an alternative approach that allows spouses to stay outside of court and dissolve their marriage through negotiation.

Note: this is part of our series on getting a divorce in Kentucky

What is Collaborative Divorce?

We can define collaborative divorce in Kentucky as a dispute resolution process where divorcing parties work together, usually with the help and guidance of their attorneys and often other neutral parties, such as accountants, to resolve their divorce and issues without going to court. In Kentucky, collaborative divorce is a cooperative process that allows you and your spouse to avoid costly litigation. 

If both spouses can agree on important decisions, like the division of marital assets and property, child support, and spousal maintenance, you might be able to use the Kentucky collaborative process. Did you know that collaborative divorce often works through a series of meetings? These meetings occur outside public courtrooms and involve you, your partner, and your collaborative team.

And during these meetings, you and your partner will gather information, such as financial information, identify your concerns and goals, and negotiate a divorce settlement that works for both parties. 

While the interests of the spouses are usually conflicting, this process doesn’t put them against each other as adversaries. Rather, the spouses, their attorneys, and other neutral experts, such as property appraisers, work together as a team in order to help them reach an agreement in their divorce. 

And the focus or objective of collaborative divorce in Kentucky is to address the couple’s interests and goals in a forward-looking manner instead of punishing each other for past actions and behavior.

When did it Arise? 

Note that the collaborative law process was founded by Stuart Webb in the early 1990s. He was among the many Minnesota family law attorneys who were seeking a more straightforward, civil, and fairer approach to divorce cases

For couples who desire and need a healthy working relationship, especially those with kids, after a divorce, the conventional approach might have long-lasting adverse consequences. Collaborative divorce was established by family law attorneys frustrated with conventional court-focused divorces that are usually seen to reward one partner over another.

Since it was established over 30 years ago, collaborative divorce is being practiced in almost every US state, including Kentucky.

What are its Advantages? 

In Kentucky, collaborative divorce is a great way to divorce in a confidential and private setting, away from courtrooms, on a timeline that both spouses and their divorce attorneys can control. 

You and your partner, your attorneys, and any neutral parties in the case might not even testify in a trial or hearing as part of the Kentucky collaborative divorce process. Also, keep in mind that a judge doesn’t impose a timeline that may not work for your situation. Here are some reasons it makes sense to go for collaborative divorce:

  • It allows you and your spouse to avoid court costs and many other litigation expenses

  • It allows you to get a divorce in a reasonable period of time

  • You and your partner usually retain more control over the whole process

  • You can concentrate more on the settlement instead of wasting energy and time arguing with your spouse in the courtroom

  • You may create a customized agreement that addresses or represents the most crucial issues for everybody in the family

  • You can reach an amicable and reasonable divorce settlement with your partner

Tradeoffs and Drawbacks 

While the supportive and cordial team approach is certainly an advantage for a collaborative divorce, note that the lack of flexibility in this process can be a considerable drawback. One of the main tradeoffs of a collaborative divorce in Kentucky is that if you don’t come to an agreement, you’ll have to start all over again. 

Secondly, you may receive more from a traditional divorce. This is because, in a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse must work together in order to reach a fair outcome for both spouses. And this may mean that one party may end up getting a smaller share of the couple’s marital assets, such as retirement accounts, than they would have the legal right to obtain if the divorce were decided by a court.

Who are its Strongest Proponents?

Judges are among the strongest proponents of collaborative law and collaborative divorce. This is because collaborative divorce helps keep divorce cases out of the courtroom, preventing the courts from being cluttered and burdened with litigation cases. 

Proponents of collaborative divorce often emphasize that avoiding court can keep stress, hostility, and costs to a minimum.

Does Kentucky allow for Collaborative Divorce? 

You will be glad to know that Kentucky allows for collaborative divorce.

Unlike some states, however, Kentucky does not have a separate procedure for collaborative divorce. Still, couples who can reach a settlement agreement before filing for divorce can finalize the divorce process relatively easily and quickly. 

A collaborative divorce In Kentucky is a formally structured process that specifically allows the divorcing couples to avoid court and establish specific rules and protocols for how their divorce will be managed.

How does the Process Compare to a Regular Divorce?

Just like the court follows certain rules and laws in traditional or regular divorce, collaborative divorce in Kentucky has its unique set of rules and procedures. In many cases, following these procedures helps maximize the likelihood of a positive outcome for both spouses and families in divorce. 

Collaborative divorces are also usually faster and less time consuming compared to traditional divorces. Collaborative divorces in Kentucky are more affordable if they go as planned, where no court decisions are required nor motions filed.  

Also, as collaborative divorces are the choice of spouses that don’t want to dispute during their divorce, they can be much smoother and less stressful than regular divorces.

However, note that collaborative law in Kentucky has a few structural and procedural requirements, such as:

  • Both parties must be represented by lawyers that are specially trained and experienced in the collaborative law process.

  • You, your partner, and your attorneys have to agree that if there is a breakdown in the collaborative law process, your lawyers must withdraw. Also, you have to find new representation in order to continue your divorce. 

Who, Besides the Couple, are Involved?

In Kentucky, a collaborative team usually includes collaborative lawyers, a neutral financial specialist, a child specialist, a mediator, and a divorce coach. Financial professionals and experts can assist their spouses’ division and preservation of assets, child support details and issues, the division of liabilities, and offer in-depth analyses of budgets and tax consequences.

Is it Better for Children?

The collaborative divorce in Kentucky process provides parents with a child-focused process. This enables and supports them in creating a post-divorce plan, which is in the best interests of their children, instead of a cookie-cutter approach. 

The litigated divorce process may be very expensive. Also, it usually takes a lot of time before any ruling is made by a judge. With a longer and protracted divorce process, your children will likely suffer right alongside you.

However, with a collaborative divorce, you can emphasize and prioritize the needs of your children as it is a very client-centered process.

If I Want to Get Divorced, how do I Start if I Want a Collaborative Divorce?

  1. Talk with your partner about collaborative family law.

  2. Both spouses need to choose a trained and experienced collaborative professional.  You will find directories of trained professionals on many sites.

  3. You should meet individually with your collaborative lawyer and even other collaborative professionals in order to discuss the details and application of the collaborative law process in your specific situation.

  4. Both spouses and both lawyers, along with any other relevant professionals, such as financial experts, sign a collaborative law agreement.

How can I Find an Attorney or Mediator who’s Familiar with Collaborative Divorce?

If you have decided that a collaborative approach to your Kentucky divorce is better than settling in court, you should work with a collaborative divorce attorney that has your best interests in mind. Finding the right legal representation could mean the difference between a peaceful and civil divorce and a messy litigation battle. 

This is why you need skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable representation from someone trained and proficient in collaborative divorce.

It is best to select somebody you feel comfortable speaking to and whom you may easily reach whenever you have any questions or concerns. Attorneys with experience in the collaborative divorce process in Kentucky can better advise you regarding your options and what is best for your family.

There are also directories of attorneys who specialize in collaborative divorce.

Finally, some lawyers have made names for themselves as Collaborative Divorce specialists. For example, Rebecca Simpson, partner at English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP, has been published in the Kentucky Bar Association’s magazine (“The Evolution of Dissolution: Collaborative Family Practice in Kentucky”, Bench & Bar, Nov/Dec 2019) and is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.

Final Thoughts 

If you’re planning on getting a divorce and would like to review your options, an expert legal team can provide you with the guidance you need in order to make the best choice. 

Your marriage and relationship may be coming apart. However, with the collaborative divorce process, you and your soon-to-be-ex may still be able to preserve what you built together – your family – in two homes. Collaborative divorce is an excellent way to dissolve a marriage in a less stressful and more efficient, and cost-effective manner.