What Are the Benefits of Collaborative Divorce to My Family?
Most people know what happens in a divorce: one spouse files a petition, serves the other spouse, and the battle begins.
Traditional divorce litigation destroys families. The court system in general, and the family court system in particular, is not equipped to handle the emotions attendant to divorce or other family-related matters. As a matter of fact, the court specifically does not take into account emotions. Trying to solve conflict by introducing more conflict is an exercise in futility. Litigation is a battle, each side a party, fighting against each other to prove to the judge why they are right and their spouse is wrong. What relief can the court give? Money? What amount of money will it take to satisfy a wronged spouse? To value years of working and missing important milestones in a child’s life to put food on the table? To value the sacrifice of an education so that a spouse could pursue theirs?
Collaborative Law was developed in the late 1980’s as an alternative to the traditional divorce litigation that tends to destroy families instead of preserving them. It is natural to compare the two processes; after all, clients have the ability to choose the way they want to restructure their families and their lives, right? So, how do the processes compare?
For one, the collaborative process keeps the decision making power in the hands of the couple, as opposed to traditional divorce litigation, in which a judge makes the decisions for the couple. Think about that: the couple making the decisions for their unique family versus a ‘stranger-to-the-family-judge’ who doesn’t know the family and only knows what the evidentiary rules allow him or her to know making the decisions for the family.
Next, the collaborative process is confidential. Through a series of meetings with counsel and the other Participating Collaborative Professionals of the collaborative team, the couple works towards achieving their common goals to reach an agreement that works for their unique family.
After an agreement is reached, the couple can file a joint, uncontested petition for divorce so that the judge can legally divorce them. This process greatly reduces documents of a personal nature and personal information from being filed in the public court system. No nasty allegations filed publicly for children, neighbors and anyone who has nothing better to do to review. For most couples the confidential aspect of the collaborative process is ideal.
Third, the collaborative process is more cost effective and generally less expensive overall. A collaborative team, made up of two collaborative attorneys, a neutral collaborative facilitator who works as a communication facilitator, and a neutral financial professional, work with the couple to reach an agreement that meets the couple’s common goals and that the couple believes is fair. Once the issues are addressed and the goals outlined, documents necessary to be reviewed are exchanged freely and openly. No motions to compel or hearings filed asking the judge to “make” the other person turn over documents. The couple meets with the neutral financial professional to discuss financial matters and meets with the mental health professional to iron out child-sharing matters.
The benefit of having professionals skilled in their particular field work jointly with the couple is a cost-saver. Afterwards, the collaborative attorneys review proposed solutions, advise their clients and take care of the legal aspects of the agreements.
For more information call one of the Participating Collaborative Professionals of mycollaborativeteam now.