Someone you know has worked diligently to try to save the marriage, but now the divorce is inevitable. They are dreading nasty tricks, money gouging and children stuck in the middle. Fortunately, that is not necessarily inevitable.
The good news is that there is an alternative to your traditional litigated divorce and mediation. It is called collaborative law divorce.
Based on my experience with about 100 couples, collaborative cases are less expensive, resolve quicker, retain privacy, have customized resolutions and foster better relationships with ex-spouses and children. But it is not perfect. You have to be honest. You have to be capable of making and sticking with decisions.
The collaborative process offers benefits over the litigation/mediation method that last into the future. Divorce is really hard on children. However, if the parents opt for it, their collaborative process helps them learn how to co-parent with minimal conflict and how to create a redesigned family that fosters good relationships among parents and children.
They can also move forward with a cost effective resource for helping them resolve those inevitable future parenting conflicts ranging from public school versus private school, medical decisions such as testing for ADHD, what kind of car to get the child, down to piercings, tattoos, after school activities and cell phone rules.
This person on the collaborative divorce team who resolves parenting conflicts is called a Parent Coordinator. He or she helps parents find middle ground and consensus instead of going back to court. As family law attorney Wendy Wood explains about going back to court to resolve parenting disputes, “It costs $7,000 per family unit to open your mouth [in court]. Or you can spend a few hours with the parent coordinator to get to the underlying emotional issue at $150 per hour.”
Another aspect of collaborative divorce than reduces expenses is the transparency. In litigation and mediation, you have gone through “discovery” first. That is where each side is asked to answer questions and send over documents in an effort “just to figure out what someone may have hidden”, explains Ms. Wood, just after she has sent out three or four sets of discovery, costing each of her clients $5,000.
In a collaborative case, one set of documents and answers come from the couple. A neutral financial professional reviews the information in a manner of trust but verify. He or she can also advise on the tax and financial issues and offer alternative options for dividing property and meeting cash flow needs.
How could this alternative method save money if you have two attorneys, a neutral Parent Coordinator and a neutral financial professional? Ms. Wood explains, “Neutrals are at a lower rate and are faster in their expertise than the attorneys. You know what your expenses are as you go along. It sounds expensive, but it is not.”
Divorce Resort LLC is a facilitator company that facilitates a collaborative law negotiation in only two days. All professionals are onsite for two complete days so they are available as needed. The process moves from discovery of assets and parenting wishes through negotiations and finally to a signed agreement between the parties that results in a divorce. The event can take place at a mediation office or a hotel for complete seclusion over the two days. People who can’t afford to put their careers on hold during the divorce process will find this an attractive alternative to litigated divorce.