June 10, 2013

Collaborative Divorce “Cons”?

balance scaleMuch has been said about a newer process of divorce called Collaborative Divorce.  In Collaborative Divorce, the couple works with a multi-disciplinary team to produce a unique and personalized divorce contract wherein both parties agree not to go or threaten to go to Court.  But there are some “cons” to the Collaborative Divorce.  Here are some:

 1.The Couple Must Agree to Leave the Past in the Past.  Part of the process for Collaborative Divorce is that the couple agrees not to re-hash the reasons behind the divorce, but rather move on.  The process does address the communication roadblocks that have repeatedly plagued a couple in order to try to minimize those communication failures in the future.  However, if you need to go over the reasons why you want to divorce your spouse as part of the process, this is not the process for you.

2.The Couple Must Agree to Treat Each Other with Respect.  Collaborative Divorce rests on providing each party to a divorce with a safe and respectful arena to ascertain goals, review facts, analyze options and create a final product.  If your goal is to belittle or intimidate your spouse in the process of divorce, this is not the process for you.

3.The Couple Must Agree Not to Go or Threaten to Go to Court.  When entering into the Collaborative Process, both parties must sign a document that they promise not to go or threaten to go to Court.  This is required because of Collaborative Divorce requires a transparency not normally seen in a traditional legal process.  Therefore, if you want a divorce where you can threaten your spouse with going to Court or where you want a judge to decide the terms of your divorce, this is not the process for you.

4.The Parties in a Collaborative Divorce Must Find Their Own Voice.  The Collaborative Process involves a series of meetings with multi-disciplinary team members, followed by “homework” for the parties, followed by other meetings until the final product is produced.  During the meetings, the parties themselves will be required to voice their interests and needs going forward, rather than using their lawyers as their “mouthpiece”.  Further, the parties will need to complete “homework” in between meetings.  This “homework” may consist of gathering the necessary financial documents, organizing them and providing them to the financial neutral.  It may also include discussing with your spouse the way in which you want to co-parent with your spouse in the future.

In a traditional process, this “homework” is usually performed by the professionals with your input.  Then your professional will convey your input and information to your spouse’s attorney who will then convey that information to your spouse, going back and forth in negotiation until agreements are met, or you are forced to use a judge to decide.  If you want your attorney to do the bulk of the work in resolving the terms of your divorce, this is not the process for you.

Sadly, Collaborative Divorce is not for every couple.  However, if your goal is to get divorced leaving the past in the past, treating your spouse with respect, staying out of court and actively participating in generating options and reaching resolutions, then Collaborative’s “cons” might actually be “pros” for you.

Kimberly Miller,JD, MA, LAMFT

Author disclaimer submitted here with what you want to have at the bottom of each of your posts.

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