RoadmapOften when we decide to do something of significance, like go on vacation, obtain a college degree, search for a new job, or save for a future purchase we develop a plan.  If you are serious about the task set before you, you will develop a written plan to keep you on track and measure your progress. Getting unmarried, as I now refer to divorce, should be no different. In fact, if you choose to use a collaborative divorce process, we utilize a written document called “Roadmap to Resolution.” I have found the use of this Roadmap extends beyond divorce planning.  I use it as a general problem-solving model. The Roadmap has 6 essential steps.
  1. Set Goals  The four basic sets of big picture goals include: Relationship goals between you and your soon to be ex-spouse Goals related to your children regardless of their ages Financial goals as to how you and your spouse would like your future financial lives to look so you both can have the greatest sense of financial well being with the resources you have Process goals as to how you and your spouse would like the process to work for you
  2. Gather Information and Identify Issues This includes gathering all financial documents and other relevant information that will be necessary to itemize all assets, liabilities, income, estimated reasonable and necessary living expenses, and property received as a gift, inherited, or acquired before the marriage.  All of this information is documented in your final divorce decree.  If you have children, this also includes information about your children their needs and special activities and costs associated with each one.
  3. Generate Options This step is when the collaborative team including attorneys, coach, child specialist,  financial neutral, and clients brainstorm to identify any options that come to mind regardless of how silly or unpleasant those options might sound initially.  The key is to write down as many options as possible without anyone commenting or trying to evaluate any stated options.
  4. Evaluate Options Here the clients indentify the options they would like to evaluate and consider.  It is at this stage clients can fully explore the pros and cons of each of the options listed and prioritize them.
  5. Negotiate/Make Decisions After fully evaluating any options clients are able to negotiate and make decisions they both can live with.
  6. Generate Documents Once all necessary decisions are made, the attorneys go to work to document agreements by preparing a draft decree for each spouse to review and ultimately sign.
The model flows both ways; meaning if you are in step 5 negotiate/make decisions, another option may present itself, creating a need for further evaluation and new negotiation and decision making. The “Roadmap to Resolution” model provides the framework for helping spouses work through a collaborative divorce and ultimately reach agreements on all relevant issues. By using the “Roadmap to Resolution, the collaborative team process, has literally helped thousands of couples across the country and around the world end their marriage but save their family. Choose your process wisely.

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