- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Negotiate/Make Decisions After fully evaluating any options clients are able to negotiate and make decisions they both can live with.
- 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.
- First, run a credit report on yourself from all three major credit-reporting agencies. These agencies include Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. The best place to obtain this report is from www.annualcreditreport.com . Your report is free from this site and they will not solicit you for other purchases with one exception. Please note these reports do not include your credit score. You can obtain your score if you like for a nominal fee.
- Once you have the report from each of the three reporting agencies review all three reports carefully. The report will tell you if you own the card jointly, individually, or if you are an authorized user. This is a great time to verify the accuracy of all the data contained in the report.
- If you have a card issued in your name that for some reason does not appear on your credit report, call the issuer to determine your ownership status.
- If you are listed as an authorized user on any credit cards, call the issuer to determine how you can be removed.
- Let your attorney know you want any authorized user status clearly dealt with in your negotiations with your spouse. You do not want this thorny issue sneaking up on you down the road. In collaborative divorces, a well-trained financial neutral and the attorneys representing their clients are well aware of this issue.
Peace is possible though we are surrounded by conflict. In the recent words of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, “The world is a mess.” Messiness occurs when people are unable or unwilling to resolve differences without wars of words or weapons. This occurs not only globally but also on a personal scale. And for all the extraordinary human costs of violent conflict, the most deeply distressing is its impact on children.The end of a marriage has some similarities to the breaking up of a country based on sectarian differences. Is it possible to disconnect without civil war? Yes, but one must be mindful of the path one is choosing, and deliberately opt to not do battle. Though sometimes complicated, peaceful resolutions are possible if the focus remains the safety and well-being of children.
I do not believe conflict is inevitable, because for every cause of conflict there is an inverse possibility. In our day-to-day lives, we can choose a path of peace. We can elect to follow The Four Agreements as defined by Don Miguel Ruiz in his book by the same name, and use these principles to help us resolve our differences:
1. I will be impeccable with my word.
2. I will not personalize what the other person says, does, thinks or believes.
3. I will make no assumptions.
4. I will do my best every day with the energy I have been given.
In Collaborative Team Practice, parents who are getting unmarried can draw from sources of support for the emotional, financial, parenting and legal issues that are involved. Parents remain in charge of their own outcomes, but are given tools to keep the process as respectful as possible, thereby setting the stage for child-centered co-parenting in the future. And the world your children will inhabit is in the future. Let it be a peaceful one.