COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE IS A PROBLEM-SOLVING PROCESS THAT PROVIDES THE SPOUSES AND THEIR LAWYERS A WAY TO END THEIR MARRIAGE AND RESTRUCTURE THEIR FAMILIES WITHOUT THE STRESS, COST AND DELAYS OF LITIGATION.
It is designed to facilitate the efficient resolution of disputes in the least destructive manner possible. Utilization of this model allows the parties to control the ultimate resolution of the case. No judge or attorney will dictate to you how you and your spouse will live the rest of your lives. The parties must pledge to be transparent and provide full disclosure of relevant information needed to dissolve the marriage. Collaborative lawyers and their clients sit together in face-to-face meetings to identify and address issues in need of resolution. The lawyers focus the clients on problem-solving and making plans for the future, rather than on casting blame or making accusations for what may have happened in the past.
THE COLLABORATIVE PROCESS OFTEN USES A MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAM.
Because ending a marriage has emotional and economic consequences, as well as legal consequences, the parties may have trouble communicating and making decisions without the help of other professionals in addition to their lawyers. Most cases should incorporate the assistance of a neutral Mental Health Professional (MHP) who is usually a psychologist, family therapist or clinical social worker. The MHP is not a therapist for either you or your spouse but rather is there to help you and your spouse cooperate with each other and be as efficient as possible. Emotionally charged spouses can sometimes become embroiled in a tit-for-tat mentality. The specialized training of the MHP helps the spouses to identify and prioritize their wants and needs in order to efficiently bargain for a mutually beneficial outcome. If minor children are involved, the MHP will also be involved in helping you and your spouse to devise a plan for how you will raise your children in the future
In appropriate cases, the multidisciplinary team may also utilize a neutral financial professional (usually a CPA or Certified Financial Planner). This neutral professional helps in the process by providing guidance regarding the spouses’ post-marital financial life. They assist the spouses and their attorneys by analyzing different alternatives in dividing marital assets. They can provide “if-then” analysis and estimate cash flows from various assets. All of this enables the spouses to make financial decisions grounded in reason rather than fear
Your collaborative divorce attorney owes you the same ethical obligations to provide advice and advocate for your interests as any other attorney. The difference is that the collaborative attorney has made a paradigm shift in the way he thinks about your case. My goal is to advance your interests in settling, rather than just “winning.” Many divorce attorneys view a divorce case as a zero-sum game. In other words, they may think “whatever is taken from the other side is a benefit to my client.” Collaboratively trained divorce attorneys think differently. We understand that often there is middle ground in a dispute that, if explored, can lead to creative solutions which benefit both spouses in their lives after divorce. Collaborative trained attorneys employ “interest-based bargaining” techniques that take into consideration the needs, desires, concerns and fears of each side in order to settle on long-term wise decisions rather than short-term victories.
COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE IS NOT THE BEST SOLUTION FOR EVERY CASE.
But, if the following is true for you, collaborative divorce may be your best solution.
- You seek a respectful, creative, private and individual process for ending your marriage.
- You want to retain control over the decisions that will affect your lives during and after your divorce.
- You recognize the potential importance of future relationships even after divorce.
- You believe it is important to protect children from the harm that parental conflict can inflict.
- You place a high value on personal responsibility for managing conflict with integrity.
Please call us to schedule a free consultation with a collaboratively trained divorce attorney.