Collaborative” appears to be the new buzzword. We hear it in ads on the radio nearly daily.
On the other hand, some of us in our professional work have been using the word “collaborative” associated with “divorce” for more than 10 years.
So, what is divorce done collaboratively? Collaborative Divorce offers couples ending their marriage a team of qualified and collaboratively trained professionals who work together to help them decide about the legal, financial and emotional issues of divorce. This is definitely not the divorce you see on afternoon television!
The collaborative approach to divorce is based on three principles: a pledge not to go to court, an honest exchange of information by both spouses and finally a solution that takes into account the highest priorities of both spouses and their children.
The collaborative approach to divorce is unlike any of the traditional mediation and litigation approaches. Those options often result in the parties leaving with anger toward each other, hurt feelings, distrust and poor communication. No tools have been gained to help them interact as they co-parent together.
Collaborative Divorce is innovative and has great potential to transform the nature of the divorce process. Collaborative Practice Teams offer support to each spouse as the experts work together with their clients to find constructive solutions to the many issues of divorce and to establish meaningful goals for the future, all while encouraging better communication habits.
In this model, each party has his or her own attorney to advise on all matters of law: child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, retirement, property distribution and preparation of a final collaborative agreement. Divorce coaches help each client work through the emotional challenges and communication issues which interfere with how the clients work together in raising their children and dealing with the complexities of divorce. A neutral, credentialed, financial consultant reviews the family’s assets and liabilities to help preserve the family’s resources while working with the couple and the other professionals in developing realistic financial choices for the future. A child specialist meets with the clients’ children and helps them talk about their feelings and concerns about the divorce. The child specialist informs the team of the children’s hopes and fears, which are considered in planning their future lives, making the children “a priority, not a casualty.”
Collaborative Divorce provides a protective “container” for a process that is kinder and gentler to the family that is, for sure, changing form, but not necessarily changing role, especially for the care of its members in the future.
If you would like more information on Collaborative Divorce, contact a legal professional for a confidential consultation.
Dale Truitt Berrett, a member of Kaufman & Canoles, has been practicing family law for more than 16 years. Her practice includes divorce, custody, support, separation agreements, equitable distribution and adoptions. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-491-4031. Lawrence E. Luck, Of Counsel at Tracy McMurtrie Luck & Associates, has more than 20 years of state and federal court litigation experience in cases in trial and appellate courts. Complementing his litigation experience, he has a substantial background in alternative dispute resolution. He can be reached at email@example.com or 757-221-0284.