In the latest Weekly Wright Report:
- A Better Way to “Consciously Uncouple” – Collaborative Divorce – read now
A Better Way to “Consciously Uncouple” – Collaborative Divorce
By Fred Kobb
Last Monday was Divorce Day. This first Monday, and the first week, back at work after the holiday season has gained a reputation as a time that legal firms see an uptick in the number of divorce requests they receive. If you’re finding yourself in this situation, this Q&A can help you resolve your divorce in a way that positively preserves relationships and protects your children.
Q: I want to have a “good” relationship with my spouse after our divorce so that our children don’t feel uncomfortable being in the same room with both parents at their future life events, such as their wedding. Is that even possible?
A: In many cases, the answer is a resounding yes! When children are involved, you and the other parent will always be your children’s parents, even after your children become adults. There isn’t a child on the planet who wants their parents to make their wedding guests uncomfortable because of the palpable tension in the room. Fortunately, there are ways you can control the spirit and outcome of your divorce; it all depends on the process you choose.
There are five basic ways to resolve issues in a divorce (or custody dispute): (1) “kitchen table” negotiations between you and your spouse; (2) mediation; (3) Collaborative Law; (4) settlement negotiations between attorneys; and (5) litigating in court. The process you choose not only affects the future relationship you will have with your soon-to-be-ex and how your children are impacted by the divorce, but it will also affect the cost of the divorce and the amount of control you have over the outcome. The range for cost and control begins with option one above, which is the least expensive and gives you the most control over the outcome of your divorce. As you move to option five, the cost increases and your control over the outcome decreases, with option five being the most expensive and giving you the least amount of control over the outcome. The more control you have over the outcome of your divorce (as opposed to a court having control), the greater satisfaction each person will have with the result and the greater your chance of having a respectful relationship with your ex-spouse.
Most divorce and custody cases are riddled with distrust and animosity. When parties litigate divorce and custody issues, their relationship will likely deteriorate, which inevitably causes harm to the children (whether they can see it or not), and the costs are exorbitant. If you want to resolve your divorce or custody case in a way that positively restructures your family and preserves relationships, takes your concerns and interests into consideration, and protects your children from the potential negative effects of divorce, the Collaborative Law process can help you achieve those goals.
Instead of being manipulative and adversarial, Collaborative Law is transparent; instead of trying to get more than the other side, it is a group effort to try to get both parties more of what they want. Collaborative Law is a team-based approach to resolving issues relating to divorce and custody outside of court where each party has a collaboratively trained attorney and collaboratively trained professionals, such as a “coach” who is a mental health professional, and a financial neutral to assist with resolving property and support issues. There are structured team meetings where the coaches manage any emotional issues the parties may have and ensure that the parties communicate respectfully to one another while the attorneys assist the parties in resolving the legal issues. The Collaborative Law process is more powerful than mediation because if an agreement cannot be reached, all professionals involved are disqualified from representing or working with either party in litigation. This gives everyone the incentive to work hard to try to reach an agreement that will really help their family.
If your goal is to have a healthy relationship with your spouse after your divorce for the benefit of your children, Collaborative Law is a good option because it is child-focused and gives both parties the necessary tools and skills to move forward from the past and allow for continued co-parenting. If you have questions or would like to know more, you can contact me or a member of our Family Law Group.
Want more? Visit the Weekly Wright Report page to browse past issues.