With so many options for transitioning your relationship from “married” to “not,” it’s hard to know which path is best for you and your family. Here are three reasons why Collaborative Divorce may be a good choice for you:
Collaborative Divorce seeks to minimize conflict and maximize the chance of coming up with the best possible solutions. You and your spouse will be part of a team that works together to brainstorm ideas and craft an agreement that works as well as possible for the entire family. This doesn’t mean that the process is easy: divorce is generally a challenging and difficult process no matter what. But, it does mean that you’ll be oriented towards and encouraged to pursue solutions instead of unproductive (and expensive!) battles.
In the Collaborative Divorce process, issues are resolved during private, confidential meetings instead of being litigated in a public courtroom. The final agreements you make will be filed with the Court and will be accessible to certain people within the Court system, but your negotiation and discussion will be completely private.
Collaborative Divorce seeks to empower you to make the best decisions for yourself and your family. Instead of handing over these major life choices to a stranger (like a Judge), the Collaborative Divorce Team works together to gather all the necessary information, brainstorm ideas, and empower you to make clear-headed, thoughtful choices for yourself.
Clients often ask me to explain what a Collaborative Divorce Team is. People aren’t used to thinking of the divorce process as including a “team” of any kind, because many folks expect divorce to be a battle…where people work against each other instead of with each other. Don’t get me wrong: Collaborative Divorces still involve two people (the spouses, or “clients” as we call them in Collaborative Divorce) who have opposing interests.
But, instead of leaving the clients to fight each other in an effort to get a bigger piece of the pie, the Collaborative Divorce Team works together to find creative ways to meet as many of *both clients’* needs as possible and – wherever we can – expand the pie itself.
The Collaborative Divorce Team consists of six people: the two clients, each client’s Collaborative Divorce attorney, a Collaborative Financial Professional (“FP”), and a Collaborative Divorce Facilitator (“CDF”). While the attorneys are Collaboratively trained and are committed to the Collaborative process, they are still advocates and represent their respective client’s best interests. The FP and CDF, though, are neutral. They don’t advocate for either client, and they work instead to help both clients overcome obstacles, generate ideas, and reach agreements.
Please stay tuned for my next post, which will address more in-dept each Collaborative Professional’s individual role.
Check out this link for great workshops and classes on divorce recovery: http://www.beyonddivorce.com/
Learn more about Collaborative divorce – and hear directly from a woman who used the process for her own divorce – by listening to National Public Radio’s article on the topic: http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201003291000
Let’s face it: conflict exists everywhere. We can’t escape it in our personal or professional lives, and each day’s news headlines blare the details of of tragedies stemming from our inability to see eye-to-eye. Despite its almost universally bad rap, though, conflict isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Conflict helps us to more deeply understand ourselves and each other, identify and motivate to change circumstances that are causing stress and disease, and – in the best case scenario – conflict brings us closer together. When parties to a dispute are honest about how they feel and work together to overcome it, they can find themselves in a better place both as individuals and as a team.
But, conflict is a double-edged sword, and the way that parents going through a divorce handle their disputes can have enormous and l0ng-lasting negative effects on their children. Most parents love their children deeply and are heavily invested in their children’s well-being, but are so (understandably) troubled by the divorce process that they unwittingly do things that draw their kids into the parental conflict and/or cause their kids unnecessary grief (in addition to the grief that kids unavoidably experience when a family transitions into two households).
I encourage parents to think carefully about how each step they take, each word they speak, and each gesture they make affects their children. There are also a lot of great classes available to help parents learn how to minimize the negative effects of parental conflict on their children as well as how to support their kids through the divorce process. Being mindful of your children’s experience is the first step towards helping them survive, learn, and grow as they work through their own feelings about your divorce.
In this video, attorney Sara Ross gives a brief summary of a question that comes up in many divorces: is one of the two members of the former couple “underemployed” (i.e. earning less money than he/she reasonably could be)? How this question is treated depends on the case, but sometimes the case needs to be treated as if this person was making more money than he/she actually is.
Sara Ross: We run into issues in maintenance with whether someone is voluntarily under-employed. This often happens in families where one person raised the children and the other person worked, and someone’s been out of the work force for a long time, and the question is: “Could they earn more than they actually are right now?” In that case, we look at whether or not we should impute income or pretend that the person is making income because they could be but aren’t.