The Collaborative Process
If you are considering a divorce or in the process of a divorce, one of the most important decisions you and your spouse need to make is what "process" you should use. You have some options. The traditional adversarial process of "battling it out in court" is not the only process available for spouses or domestic partners who find themselves involved in the divorce process. A divorce is about loss - and a common reaction to loss is grief and anger. If these emotions manifest as hostility, the divorce can gain a vicious momentum that can spiral out of control, causing court proceedings that can last for years and substantially deplete the community assets. There are better processes available for the couples that would like to avoid expensive court battles. The Collaborative Process is a solution-focused approach that gives couples maximum control and privacy as they work out their agreements with the support of professionals who have been trained in the Collaborative Process.
The Collaborative Process focuses on attaining resolution, and the model is designed to protect the interests of children and help you and your spouse move forward with new lives. Unlike conventional divorce, the Collaborative Process offers you a team of skilled and compassionate professionals. Each expert in their own fields, the team members help you manage the many aspects of divorce - the legal issues, the emotional turmoil, the concerns for children and the financial and property questions. The team will help you find constructive solutions to deal with divorce's wide-ranging issues and establish goals for the future. With such support you'll feel more in control of the divorce process itself. Each party has his or her own attorney, trained in the Collaborative Process. Each attorney protects the individual rights of their client, but keeping in mind the overall good of the family and a mutually beneficial outcome.
At first glance, the process seems expensive, but research shows it is less costly than the traditional adversarial court proceedings. Because there is a commitment to cooperation and avoiding court, it is a more cost effective approach. Because the court system is not being utilized, there are no depositions or discovery, no hearings or trials, no public filings of declarations about the family's private and personal life. Your personal life will remain private and not aired for public view. You will control your own calendar and proceed with your divorce at your own pace, rather than having a judge determine how fast or slow you and your spouse should proceed. You and your spouse will determine what is best for your children, not a judge. You and your spouse have an opportunity for creative solutions in dividing the community assets and debts, not available to a judge, as he or she is restricted by the confines of the law.
If necessary, a financial specialist is retained as part of the team. The financial specialist assists each party with establishing a formal budget based on their income and expenses. If a business needs to be valued, or temporary support is imminent the clients and team members address the issue together to seek immediate solutions. The Financial Specialist is a neutral and seeks creative solutions that minimize taxes and maximizes cash flow to the family.
The Collaborative Coach is a licensed mental health professional, and if needed, will be added to the team to assist the clients in identifying barriers to productive communication, promote cooperation, extinguish animosity and address the emotional issues that may arise during the settlement process. If necessary, a Child Specialist will be retained to meet separately with the children and assist in determining a child sharing schedule that is best for the child(ren).
The Collaborative Process allows the couple to retain the experts that are necessary for their individual needs as they move through the divorce process.