Going through a divorce can make you feel isolated and alone, unsure of where to turn for support, and advice.
Unlike conventional divorce, Collaborative Divorce offers you a team of skilled and compassionate professionals. Each expert in their own field, the team members help you manage the many aspects of divorce; the legal issues, the emotional turmoil, the concerns for children, the financial, and property questions. With such support you will feel more in control of the divorce process itself and better equipped to begin a new life post-divorce.
The heart of Collaborative Practice or Collaborative Divorce (also called “no-court divorce,” “divorce with dignity,” or “peaceful divorce”) is to offer you and your spouse or partner the support, protection, and guidance of your own professional advisors without going to court. Collaborative Divorce allows you to choose the makeup of your professional advisory team including the benefit of attorneys, child specialist, financial specialists, divorce coaches, and other professionals all working together. You may choose to work with a full team which includes an attorney and coach for each party, a neutral financial specialist, and a child specialist if you have children. You may also choose to work with a team consisting of two attorneys and a financial specialist. The key is you make the choice, with the input from your advisors, of how to build your team and who to place on it.
In Collaborative Practice, the core elements form your contractual and personal commitments are to:
- Negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement without having courts decide issues.
- Maintain open communication and information sharing.
- Create shared solutions acknowledging the highest priorities of all.
Your team is trained to help facilitate this process for you and demonstrate their commitment to the openness of the Collaborative process with their vow to remove themselves from your divorce proceedings should you be unable to resolve your differences outside of court. These commitments are detailed in the Collaborative Stipulation all parties sign at the beginning of a Collaborative Divorce case and in the local practice group’s mission statement.
Collaborative practice groups are lawyers, mental health professionals, and financial advisors working together to learn, practice, and promote collaborative processes for problem solving and peaceful resolution of family law issues with an eye toward preserving the emotional as well as the financial assets of the family. Its goal it to transform the resolution of family law issues through respectful collaborative processes that protect the integrity and health of family relationships and eliminate the need of families to resort to court litigation.
As you review the roles of your various professionals, be sure to choose team members with special training in Collaborative Practice. You can get a membership list for your local Collaborative practice group by asking your financial specialist at Wellspring Divorce Advisors.
Though Collaborative Practice seeks to avoid going to court, the settlement is still a legal agreement. Therefore, a lawyer must be involved to advise you on all matters of law, from child custody and support, to maintenance agreements, financial settlements, and property distribution. Your Collaborative Lawyer will help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities, help you make informed decisions, listen to you, and be your advocate during the process. Collaborative lawyers have made a commitment to the unique practice of the collaborative model.
Divorce is a major life transition; while it marks the end of one part of your life, it is also the beginning of another. A divorce coach helps you manage the pain and strain of changing relationships, while focusing on goals for the present and the future. Working with you to make the most of your strengths, your divorce coach assists you in being at your best during the divorce process and taking positive steps to a new life.
The divorce settlement will in part determine your financial well-being for many years to come. It is critical it be soundly structured. Couples where one spouse assumed more responsibility for the family’s finances can be especially challenging. The guidance of a financial specialist will help protect both parties’ interests by working to support full disclosure and open discussion of the financial reality that may not be known to both parties. Reviewing and reporting all assets, debts, incomes, and expenses; the financial specialist will assure you are making decisions with all available information at your fingertips. The financial specialist will help you in developing viable financial options for your future and analyzing them for chances of success. After evaluating the choices you can then construct a comprehensive plan for the next stage of your life. Are you worried about how divorce will affect your financial future? How will you pay for your children’s education or fund your retirement? What will happen with your home? Will you ever have financial security again? A financial specialist will help you find solutions to these questions.
Children may suffer most from divorce, and be least able to understand or express their feelings. Their world is being turned upside down in ways they cannot begin to comprehend. Communication with parents may be difficult, if not impossible. A goal of Collaborative Practice is to assure children are a priority, not a casualty. The child specialist, an individual skilled in understanding children, will meet with your children privately, assisting them in expressing their feelings and concerns about the divorce. Encouraging children to think creatively about the future, the child specialist then communicates their feelings, concerns, and hopes to the team to consider when planning for the children’s lives.
Building a Team
Building a full team of professionals to deal with every divorce case can be expensive and in-efficient. Wellspring Divorce Advisors recognizes this and is willing to work in cases where a full team is not ideal. Here are a few of the different team make-ups we have worked as a part of.
- Full Team with Children: Two attorneys, Two coaches, Financial Neutral, and Child Specialist
- Full Team no Children: Two attorneys, Two coaches, and Financial Neutral
- One Coach Model: Two Attorneys, One Coach, and Financial Neutral
- No Coach Model: Two attorneys and Financial Neutral
There is no silver bullet that works for every case. The decision of how to build your team should be carefully considered. Feel free to ask the professionals you interview what they think about different options for team make-up.
Is a Collaborative Divorce right for my family?
Can you work together for the sake of your children, talk openly about finances, and make important decisions for yourself? If you answered yes to these questions then take the next step and ask your financial specialist at Wellspring Divorce Advisors if they feel you can be successful in a Collaborative process.