Collaborative Divorce

Phoenix Collaborative Divorce Lawyer

A DIFFERENT WAY TO DIVORCE

A growing number of people are demanding a more constructive conflict resolution model, which allows the parties to resolve disputes respectfully and places any children first and foremost. The growing Collaborative Practice movement is a simple, client [family]-centered, no-court, team approach, and one of the few avenues within the divorce model that actually provides for the voice of the children.

Although each party has his and her own independent family lawyer who is trained in Collaborative Divorce, Collaboration is actually a team approach.  The parties may also utilize other Collaborative professionals such as divorce coaches who are licensed behavioral health professionals. If there are children, a child specialist can be part of the team to assist the parents understand the child’s development needs. A licensed financial professional can serve as the financial neutral for the purpose of gathering and/or analyzing financial data information for both sides.

Whether or not the parties add team members beyond their counsel is up to them.  Also, the parties can bring in a neutral, for example a financial neutral, for a single limited purpose.  Using a collaborative team benefits the parties by obtaining the highest and best usage of each of the professionals.

Through a series of meetings, the trained Collaborative professionals guide the parties, under the protective umbrella of their team, to find workable solutions. The parties begin by standing for something they can both agree on, self-respect. From the place of empowerment, the parties are able to negotiate based upon their needs or what is important to them, rather than the traditional adversarial method of digging in their heels in polarizing positions, strategizing and litigating.

The Collaborative process is most successful where both parties have some concern about the future well-being of the other party.  Just because a person wants their divorce to go smoothly may not be enough.  There has to be some care about the, if they have no care for their soon to be spouse.

COMPARISON: Collaboration v. Litigation

Collaboration Litigation
CONTROL OVER THE PROCESS the parties the court
CONTROL OVER DECISIONS the parties the court
COMMUNICATIONS open – with team assistance adversarial- no process to facilitate
COSTS manageable and cost-effective unpredictable and can escalate
EXPERTS jointly retained separate to support positions
TIMETABLE set by parties set by court/statute
PRIVACY maximum privacy public record
CHANCE OF POST-DECREE LITIGATION low high risk for future adversity
COURT INVOLVEMENT out-of-court solutions court-based

COMMUNICATION

At the heart of Collaborative Divorce is open communication, honesty and sharing of information. As a relationship ends, communications can become strained, even under the best of circumstances. Yet keeping the lines of communication open is essential for reaching the necessary agreements that enable the parties to move forward. The parties may no longer be in a relationship, but they remain worthy human beings. Where respect is given and received, the channels can be open for a trusting dialogue. Collaboration provides for an open exchange of information and expression of needs and expectations. Problem solving during the negotiation process can be direct and solutions-orientated because the clients have access to their lawyers for legal issues, their divorce coaches for emotional issues and their financial neutral to handle financial information.

COLLABORATION PLEDGE

The glue that binds the Collaborative Divorce team together is a written pledge that the parties make committing to resolve the matter out-of-court. The parties, not a judge, make the decisions. Collaborative Divorce in it’s purest sense is simply two parties and two attorneys who pledge to work-out the issues without litigating.

In a nutshell, Collaboration….

  • Encourages mutual respect.
  • Emphasizes the needs of children.
  • Avoids going to court.
  • Keeps control of the process with the individuals.
  • Provides for open communication.
  • Utilizes a problem-solving approach.
  • Identifies and addresses interests and concerns of all.
  • Prepares individuals for new lives.

DEFINITIONS

COLLABORATIVE LAWYER

Though Collaborative Practice seeks to avoid going to court, the settlement is still a legal agreement. Therefore, it is essential that a trained collaborative divorce lawyer be involved to advise you on all matters of law, from child custody and support to maintenance agreements to financial settlements and property distribution. Collaborative lawyers have made a commitment to the unique practice of the collaborative model.

DIVORCE COACH

Divorce is a major life transition; while it marks the end of one part of your life, it is also the beginning of another. A mental health professional helps you manage the pain and strain of your change in status, allowing you to more clearly focus on your goals. Working with you to make the most of your strengths, your mental health professional assists you to be at your best during the divorce process, as well as to take positive steps to a new future.

FINANCIAL NEUTRAL OR FINANCIAL SPECIALIST

The divorce settlement can affect your financial well-being for many years to come. It is critical that it be soundly structured, especially where one spouse assumed more responsibility for the family finances. The Financial Specialist is a licensed financial advisor, who serves the parties by reviewing and analyzing asset and income information and can assist the parties to brainstorm viable financial options that will enable them to protect their financial interests going forward.

CHILD SPECIALIST

Children may suffer most from divorce, and be least able to understand or express their feelings. Some children suffer silently, while their world is being turned upside down. Communication with parents may be difficult, if not impossible. A goal of Collaborative Practice is to assure that children are a priority, not a casualty. The child specialist, an behavioral health professional who is skilled in understanding children, will meet with your children privately and encourage them to express their feelings and any concerns about the divorce. The child specialist then communicates the information to the team, enabling consideration of the children’s wishes.