In part I of keep more of your money in your family
; choosing your process wisely I wrote about the well known traditional litigated court based divorce process and mediation. In this issue, I will cover Collaborative Divorce.
Collaborative divorce is an option you and your spouse should thoroughly explore before making any choice about divorce process. It is my belief that you and your spouse should first decide upon process before you ever hire an attorney. You can then match the right attorney to the right process. Just because they are, a divorce attorney does not mean they can be effective and efficient in all processes. In a collaborative divorce
, a collaboratively trained attorney through the entire process represents each spouse.
A financial specialist
helps couples sort out their financial issues including gathering all the financial data necessary for the divorce decree and presenting it to their respective attorneys in a format that helps attorneys review the numbers more efficiently. Contrast this with you and your spouse providing each of your attorneys the financial data, the two attorneys talking together about the financial data and then going back to you their client to discuss those conversations then going back again to the other attorney to discuss. Let me ask you on just this one basic step in the financial process, do you think you would keep more of your money in your family? Do you want to be paying two attorneys to do this financial data gathering or would you prefer to pay one financial specialist? A financial specialist is the one person who is in the best position to help you keep more of your financial resources in your family throughout the divorce process. They can save you taxes, come up with some creative options, and other ideas that allow both you and your spouse to create the best financial outcome for each of you given your existing resources.
In any divorce with minor children, a parenting plan is created and documented. In the collaborative divorce process, this is usually completed with a child specialist
. This person helps parents articulate and document a well thought out plan to co-parent their children. The child specialist meets with the parents and often times meets with the children separately and then with everyone together. This level of attention to the family well-being is not found in other processes. You can of course work with two attorneys or a mediator to come up with a parenting time schedule and perhaps another piece or two of a well thought out plan. What you are not likely to get is a complete parenting plan that increases the likelihood of your children successfully navigating your divorce with you and your spouse.
Also available in the collaborative divorce process is a neutral divorce coach. The divorce coach helps spouses communicate effectively during the divorce process and come up with a plan for post divorce communication and relationship. This can lower conflict, which can decrease costs. If emotions run high at some point during the divorce process, a coach acts to ground you in the areas that are important to you. This enables both you and your spouse, to effectively communicate your needs, interests, and concerns all necessary to produce the higher-level outcome intended to last for a long time.
It is interesting to me that I often hear people say they are concerned about divorce costs when learning about collaborative divorce. Yet the collaborative divorce process minimizes attorney involvement since much of the work with the neutral financial specialist, neutral child specialist, and neutral divorce coach is completed without attorneys present. Attorneys usually are the highest paid professionals in any divorce process and most are not trained in financial issues, child and family systems, or other family relationship dynamics. What attorneys are trained in is the law. So imagine yourself utilizing a divorce process providing you with a menu of professional resources to help you and your family work with specialists in their respective fields and yet always have access to your own attorney who will be your advocate. Of the three processes discussed in this two issue article which do you think will allow you to keep more of your money in your family, traditional litigation, mediation, or collaborative divorce?
Remember to help you keep more of your money in your family choose your process wisely. In Part II of Keep More of Your Money in Your Family, I will write about choosing your attorney wisely.
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