Law Office of Alice Proskauer Arnold, J.D., PhD
Collaborative Divorce is a client-centered, non-adversarial process, which uses an interdisciplinary team of professionals, and fully supports the couple to resolve the issues at hand. The couple signs a formal pledge not to go to court, unless the collaborative process breaks down. Clients have a right to stay out of court and transition through divorce with a focus on their family’s priorities, and guided by civility and respect. The client Collaborative Divorce process is comprehensive and provides the tools to is guided through the process of resolving parenting, property, and financial matters. Furthermore, because it is a consensual process the likelihood of post-dissolution conflicts arising is minimized.
The team consists of a Divorce Coach and Financial Professional, perhaps a Child Specialist and any other necessary expert. By hiring the right professional for the job, the team addresses all three dimensions of divorce, namely, legal, emotional and financial.
The Divorce Coach is a particularly helpful member of the team.
Each party has a Divorce Coach that assists to:
- identify the client’s goals,
-support the client emotionally and mentally,
-help frame the big picture,
-help the client have a voice in the process,
-avoid self-sabotaging behaviors,
-help manage the stress and emotions of divorce.
The Financial Specialist can:
-assist the parties to prepare required financial disclosures, and
-organize and produce relevant documents,
-prepare a Financial Report with future projections.
It is valuable for the couple to have a realistic view of future cost of living, property values, and income so that they can leave the marriage and remain financial stable.
The Child Specialist can:
-assist in evaluating parenting schedules, and
-guide the clients in creating a healthy and functional post-divorce parenting relationship.
The team philosophy encourages both parties to approach parenting issues from a positive, loving, and caring position. This is immensely beneficial for the children.
There are numerous advantages to a Collaborative Divorce. The team approach empowers clients to develop thoughtful solutions to their custody, support, and property matters. The client then has the tools he or she needs to evaluate settlement options and reach agreements that are not only in his or her best interests, but best for the family as a whole. Because the parties have agreed not to litigate, they both have a vested interested in reaching settlement together.
If the clients’ decide that the Collaborative Divorce process is not working for them, they can withdraw and try another process such as mediation or court. If they make this choice, each spouse’s respective collaborative legal professional must withdraw from representation. Further, no members of the team (child specialist, financial professional or coach) may be involved in the litigation. In addition, no file records or documentation drafted during the collaborative divorce meetings can be used in litigation. Opponents of Collaborative Divorce criticize the need for the team to be disqualified since such disqualification requires the client to start all over again with a new teamteam. The flip side of this coin is that parties’ have an incentive to settle to avoid starting over. If enough is at stake it may be necessary for a client to end the Collaborative process, but that would occur after consultation with the team. Furthermore, the Collaborative team has incentive to settle or else be out of a job. Given the traditional culture of threats to go to court, Collaborative Lawyers have to shift their paradigm and be more creative around settlement and surfacing client’s true needs. Despite some criticism of Collaborative Divorce, many cases are settled and with less expense and time than traditional litigation.
This is a win-win for the family as a whole, which is the best outcome possible.