By Lauren Gaydos Duffer
Going through a divorce or know someone who is going through a divorce? Divorce can be very stressful on families and most especially on children. Ten years ago if you went through a divorce or knew someone who went through a divorce, the only option available was to use litigation. Ten years ago, like today, the worst case scenario involved a hotly contested litigated divorce, where families spent their entire life savings and some to have a Judge who only got to hear some of the evidence make a decision about their family. Today, families going through divorce have another option outside of litigation, Collaborative Law.
1. What are the Benefits of Collaborative Law?
Collaborative law allows families to divorce in an efficient manner while focusing on what is most important, their children. In a Collaborative divorce, the focus is on restructuring your family not destroying your family.
2. Why Should you Use Collaborative Law if you have Children?
If you have children, divorce does not mean that you are getting rid of your spouse and that you will not ever have to communicate with your spouse again. Rather, you will have to communicate more with your spouse about your children with an additional obstacle of not being married and not being in the same house. In a Collaborative divorce, we try to give parents the tools to co-parent even after they are not married by involving a neutral communication facilitator. The neutral communication facilitator is the leader of the pack so to say. The communication facilitator is there to help guide the parents through the divorce process, keep the communication productive, and help the parents create a custom parenting plan designed for their family rather than a cookie cutter parenting plan ordered by a Judge who does not even know your family. In Collaborative law, the details important to your family and your children can be addressed. For example, extracurricular activities, private school, summer camp, day care, and tutoring to name a few. In a litigated divorce, the court does not have time to address the details about your family.
3. Why Should you Use Collaborative Law if you do not Pay the Bills?
In a marriage, each spouse usually has their own defined role. For example, one spouse usually takes the trash out, one spouse usually feeds the cat or dog, and one spouse usually pays the bills. Often, the spouse who does not pay the bills has limited knowledge about the family finances. In Collaborative law, we often involve a neutral financial professional. The neutral financial professional is the organizer of the process. The neutral financial professional works with the clients to understand their estate. Once the neutral financial professional understands the estate, he or she then organizes the information into a workable format such as a spreadsheet for both of the clients and each client’s respective attorney. The neutral financial professional then walks the client and attorneys around the estate so that everyone has the same information and understanding. Should one spouse need or request additional information, everyone commits to and agrees to provide whatever information is needed so that the spouse can have a sense of comfort when making decisions.