How do I know if the Collaborative Process is the best choice for us?

Collaborative divorce is a voluntary process to resolve your divorce outside of the courtroom. While it is a great option for many couples, it is not right for everyone.

The Collaborative Process works for cases when both spouses:

  1. Want to divorce amicably and minimize conflict.
  2. Are willing to provide complete financial information voluntarily.
  3. Want the children to have a relationship with the other parent.
  4. Are willing to take personal responsibility for their decisions.
  5. Can focus on the future.
  6. Want emotional and financial support during the divorce process.

The Collaborative Process can work in cases where there are mental health concerns, allegations of abuse, or addiction. For the Collaborative Process to work in these situations, the spouses must be able to meet in the same room and structure an agreement that ensures the safety of all involved.

The Collaborative Process does not work when:

  1. One party has a protection order against the other.
  2. There is domestic violence.
  3. The spouses are unable to meet together.
  4. One of the spouses is afraid of or intimidated by the other spouse.
  5. There have been threats of suicide, threats of violence to the other spouse or the children, or threatened/attempted kidnapping of the children.

 

How is Collaborative Divorce different from settling cases with a mediator?

Mediation and the Collaborative Process are similar, in that both are non-adversarial processes to resolve a divorce. However, there are a number of key differences.

In mediation, the use of an attorney is optional. In contrast, Collaborative Divorce requires both parties to have an attorney representing them.

The Collaborative Process utilizes a team to provide emotional support, advice about the law, financial advice, and communication skills. In contrast, a mediator helps the parties resolve legal disputes.

Both mediation and Collaborative Divorce are voluntary process. In mediation, the parties can go to court if they are unable to reach an agreement. In the Collaborative Process, the parties sign an agreement that they will not go to court, and if they do, their attorneys will be disqualified and they will have to find new counsel.

A mediator often acts like the Divorce Facilitator in the Collaborative Process. However, the mediator cannot give legal advice to either party. In the Collaborative Process, the parties get independent legal advice from their attorney, in addition to learning communication skills.

In a Collaborative Divorce, the parties agree to exchange financial information. Although the parties can agree to exchange this information before mediation, there is no requirement to do so.

In mediation, the parties are often in separate rooms, while in the Collaborative Process, they are in the same room and must speak directly to one another.

How can Collaborative professionals help me with a do-it-yourself divorce?

Many couples seeking to avoid litigation opt to complete a legal separation without the use of attorneys or experts – to file Pro se. Aptly called a “kitchen table divorce”, Pro se comes from the Latin term “on one’s own behalf” and refers to parties filing the required forms directly with the court. The argument by couples is typically, “We agree, and we don’t want a lengthy court battle.” The logic is understandable, and in circumstances that don’t involve children and substantial assets, it may make sense to complete a divorce Pro se. Unfortunately, a good deal of the post-decree (after divorce) issues arise because the parties who “agreed on everything” didn’t know what they didn’t know. As a result, they created arrangements that could not adequately serve the needs of their family. Divorce specialists can be hired individually to help increase your awareness and protect your interests.

Family Law Attorneys:

  • Provides you with both legal and practical advice regarding your divorce
  • Helps you to work through the objectives and goals you have for yourself and your children
  • Helps you to think through your options
  • Helps you to present your case and negotiate.
  • Helps you to understand your spouse’s positions
  • Review your settlement before filing to alert you to potential pitfalls

Collaborative Divorce Facilitators:

  • Resolve differences and conflict in an amicable manner using mediation or divorce coaching methods, and/or a Parenting Coordinator Decision Maker (PCDM)
  • Manage emotions, provide effective communication techniques, and create a safe space for constructive conversation

Financial Specialists:

  • Help collect and organize all the financial information and supporting documents from the parties.
  • Present the financial information in a form that supports problem solving and decision making.
  • Helps the parties to explore options to resolve division of assets, maintenance,  child support, and cash flow.
  • Advises on the tax implications on options and decisions.

Parenting Specialists:

  • Receive clinical expertise for creating a parenting plan that is beneficial to the children and equitable to the parents. 
  • Prepare the parties for effective co-parenting
  • Assist in understanding the child(ren)’s perspective(s) and how to address their challenges
  • Re-establish trust and develop communication skills between the co-parents
  • As needed, work with couple to design and agree to future “rules of engagement”

Mortgage Specialists:

  • Discuss options to refinance your home
  • Review “what-if” scenarios pertaining to your mortgage to arrive at the best fit
  • Learn strategies to qualify for your next home purchase
  • Help your attorney structure your settlement when it affects your ability to qualify for a new mortgage

Divorce Specialized Realtors®:

  • Assess the value of your home
  • Identify the repairs and upgrades that are necessary to sell your home
  • Explore homes and neighborhoods before finalizing your settlement
Why is Collaborative Divorce such an effective settlement process?

Collaborative Professionals are committed to supporting their clients in achieving the healthiest outcome for every member of the family.  This contrasts dramatically with the role of the traditional adversarial approach, which is premised on a “win-lose” approach.  This also tends to encourage prolonged conflict rather than achieving resolution and promoting a peaceful relationship between the parties as they restructure their family and move forward.  This healthier approach is crucial when there are children involved—Collaborative attorneys and neutral team members are mindful and encourage the couple to work with each other, rather than against one another, to co-parent their children cooperatively for the rest of their lives.

How does the cost of Collaborative Divorce compare with the cost of litigation?

It’s no secret that getting a divorce can be expensive. But it doesn’t have to break the bank.  One of the many potential ways to keep divorce costs down is to be less combative with your soon-to-be ex and work more cooperatively instead.  The Collaborative Divorce process facilitates this cooperation by design.

The bulk of divorce costs come from court appearance and preparation and filing fees in a traditional divorce process.  But you don’t need to go to court to negotiate, settle, and finalize your divorce.  In fact, spouses who decide on a Collaborative divorce sign an agreement that mandates that both attorneys withdraw from the case if a settlement can’t be reached during the Collaborative process.  This caveat tends to keep both parties flexible and solution focused.

In the Collaborative process, the spouses will meet with their respective attorneys 1:1 and together as well as with the two primary neutrals on the case: the Financial Specialist (usually a CDFA/Collaborative Divorce Financial Analyst and the CDF/Collaborative Divorce Facilitator who oftentimes serves as the communications coach, co-parenting coach, and project manager of the divorce process). 

As a simple example, it is certainly less expensive to meet with the CDFA (without attorneys) to discuss the necessary financial matters of the settlement rather than with both attorneys at the same time.  This same scenario holds when the couple meets with the CDF to talk through and layout the parenting plan without needing both attorneys present.  With this process, couples benefit in multiple ways: they can meet separately with the specialist trained and best suited for each component of the divorce (emotional/parenting/communication, financial, legal) which saves money in both time and efficiencies.

In any case, with all parties working together, outside of an adversarial court system, many of the divorce costs and fees can be eliminated.

Contact us to learn more!

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