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  • John C. Whitbeck, Jr.


    John C. Whitbeck, Jr. practices in the following areas of law: Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Mediation, Arbitration, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Criminal Law, DUI/DWI, Reckless Driving, All Felonies, All Misdemeanors, Juvenile Crimes, Mental Health Law, Civil and Business Litigation, Construction Litigation, Education Law, Election Law, Debt Collection, Consumer and Lemon Law.

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  • Ruth M. McElroy


    Ruth M. McElroy practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Pre and Post Marital Agreements, Domestic Violence, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Juvenile Crimes, Felony and Misdemeanor Crimes, Traffic Offenses, Debt Collection, Civil and Business Litigation. She serves the Virginia Court system as a Guardian ad litem.

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  • Jennifer D. Cisneros


    Jennifer D. Cisneros practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Crimes, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Estate Planning, Wills and Probate, Trusts, Civil and Business Litigation and Debt Collection.

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What is Collaborative Divorce in Virginia?


When many people think about divorce, they assume that it’s always contested and a messy and aggressive process. There are assumed to be fights over money, assets, child custody, and spousal support payments, which all takes place in a courtroom setting. While litigating a divorce is common, it’s not the only option you have.

Spouses looking to divorce in Virginia have another option. This is called collaborative divorce, which is a process that allows both parties to communicate and reach an agreement on their own. This may rely on the guidance of professionals, and both parties’ attorneys, but it is done outside of court. It tends to be more peaceful and gives people a feeling of satisfaction since they were more personally involved in the settlement agreement.

Couples who choose collaborative divorce start by signing a document that confirms they both agree they will not pursue litigation for the divorce. In the event the parties try to proceed with litigation for their divorce, both attorneys are let go and cannot participate in the litigated divorce.

The process of collaborative divorce generally works by having each party and their respective counsel sit at a table. Issues are discussed, one by one, with experts or outside help brought in if the need arises. Prior to each meeting, there is an agenda drafted to help the parties and their counsel prepare. At the end of collaborative divorce, the lawyers draft agreements in a legally binding manner.

Benefits of Collaborative Divorce

The main benefit of collaborative divorce is the power it gives both parties over the outcome of their divorce. Because you are not bound by court deadlines, both sides can spend extra time resolving particular issues and expedite other matters.

Collaborative divorce also offers confidentiality. Because the matter is not before the court, there is no need to document allegations on official court documents, which are public record and can be viewed by anyone who requests them. There is a definite plus to not having your personal information and “dirty laundry” subject to viewing in various pleadings, motions, and court documents that could be requested by a third-party.

Another benefit is the potential financial savings. There is a built-in financial incentive for the spouses to finalize everything during the collaborative divorce. Otherwise, the parties will be forced to start all over without their current attorneys. Any consultants that were used during the collaborative process have to be dismissed as well. That means getting new attorneys on both sides up to speed, along with any needed experts. And, it’s important to note that the new attorneys cannot be from the same firms who originally represented both spouses. This is certainly a huge incentive for most couples to try and get through any breakdown in settlement negotiations.

Hiring a Virginia Divorce Attorney

If you’re contemplating collaborative divorce in Virginia, you need a skilled Leesburg family law attorney. The team at Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC is well-versed in all areas of Virginia divorce law, including collaborative divorce. Contact our office at 703-997-4982 to schedule a consultation. Let one of our attorneys help you decide whether collaborative divorce is right for you.

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Governor Northam’s Executive Order 53 provides that businesses that offer professional rather than retail services may remain open. Our firm is continuing to operate to ensure you and your family have advocates available for whatever legal issue you face. For clients who prefer, we can arrange meeting by Zoom or other video-conferencing. We are also implementing internal procedures to provide a safe environment in the office. Please contact us at 703-777-1795 or schedule an appointment today!