Divorce involves highly-charged emotional and financial issues with legal ramifications, yet most people think of divorce as only a legal process. The legal process model is one where you or the court divides assets, determines alimony and child support and figures out the best parenting plan for your children. The problem is that divorces can drag on for years if the emotions are not properly managed, especially if people are stuck in places of deep hurt and resentment. Furthermore, crucial financial decisions are often made with limited information and in a rushed environment, sometimes a week or day before or even the day of trial. Settling your case without the necessary tools and enough time to consider alternatives can result in lost opportunities and bad outcomes.
The Collaborative team model acknowledges the fact that each divorce includes legal, financial and emotional components that all affect each other. The team consists of two lawyers, a neutral coach (a trained mental health practitioner), and a neutral financial expert. The team process allows each professional to do what he or she does best to efficiently support the clients in their divorce process. This usually results in savings both in time and in money for the parties.
The presence of the team often helps all participants rise to their best selves as they grapple with the difficult issues in the divorce. The team approach also helps the professionals understand the dynamic between the parties so that settlement talks are as productive as possible. For lawyers, knowing how to communicate to the opposing party can make all the difference between a failed and a successful resolution of the case. And knowing all of the tax consequences of different financial options can aid the parties in their quest to create durable “win-win” agreements.
Doing Collaborative work with only two lawyers and two clients misses the opportunity to improve communication, enhance financial agreements, and transform the parties’ ability to co-parent in the best interests of their children.