Collaborative divorce is an alternative to the traditional divorce procedure that commonly involves two sets of lawyers battling in court to get the best deal for their client.
Non-adversarial in nature, collaborative divorce is widely considered to be the approach of choice when there are children involved. Of course, it is also the approach for couples who genuinely want a respectful divorce that involves as little trauma as possible.
In a collaborative divorce, which is based on negotiation, both parties still have an attorney to represent them, but they are trained in collaborative divorce and are committed to the process involved. A collaborative attorney works with her client helping to establish what they want from the divorce settlement, and what the best goals are for the family as a whole.
Ultimately, collaborative divorce attorneys remain unbiased, providing suggestions and support, rather than instigating ways to win the case.
Even though collaborative attorneys are lawyers, they steer their clients away from the idea of legal action in a court of law. In fact, if either party threatens legal action, the collaborative process ends and litigation takes its place.
The goal is for the divorcing couple to reach an agreement that will be mutually beneficial to them, and to their children if there are any.
Of course, collaborative divorce attorneys specialize in divorce law. They aren’t financial specialists, therapists, or people who have training that relates to the needs of children. This is why there is often a team of people who are involved in the collaborative divorce process.
So who would be part of a collaborative divorce team, and what would their roles be?
The Collaborative Divorce Team
As discussed, two collaborative divorce attorneys are always involved in a collaborative divorce. So they, together with the divorcing couple form the basis for the divorce team. Other possible team members would be:
- A financial specialist who might be a certified financial planner, a public accountant, or a certified divorce financial advisor. All are trained in the financial field and will be able to help the couple make informed decisions about their financial future. Like all members of the collaborative divorce team, it is imperative that financial specialists who participate in the team remain completely neutral and don’t take sides. Their advice will cover all financial aspects including future household cash-flow issues, tax issues, property claims, and anything that might relate to the assets of the marital estate.
- An appraiser if it is necessary to value real or personal property or a business for purposes of the settlement.
- A child specialist who would usually become the voice of the child or minor children in the collaboration process. Child specialists also often assist parents with co-parenting skills.
- A divorce coach who helps the divorcing couple with negotiation skills to help them achieve a successful and amicable agreement. A divorce coach might also help the couple develop a co-parenting plan that will work for the children and both of them.
- A mental health professional who, rather than providing therapy for the couple, helps them through what is inevitably an emotionally charged time. They attend joint meetings and often consult individually with husband and wife.
- A therapist, particularly if there are children or teenagers involved.
If you want to avoid litigation and approach divorce in a non-emotive, civilized manner, a collaborative divorce is your solution. Call Waggoner Hastings Family & Collaborative law firm for more information.