January 8, 2016

Delay, Delay, Delay!

During the first joint meeting of my Collaborative case, the parties agreed that an interest they shared was the efficiency of the process.  My client in particular was concerned about the case dragging on, as she was still living with her husband in the martial home and wanted to leave as soon as possible; however, she was concerned about her financial security moving forward.  Personally, through experience, I have learned to validate a client’s wish for a speedy process, but without committing to a particular end date.  That, or if I have given an estimate of when a case might be completed, I am careful to couch the estimate in language that does not guarantee any particular result, but rather which is dependent upon a slate of variables, any one of which might contribute to the process taking longer than it “should.”  Certainly, in a litigated case, the process has a tendency to drag on because of the “failure” of the parties to come to terms.  But even in a Collaborative case, stuff happens.  In my own Collaborative case, after our initial joint meeting, the team set a date for the next joint meeting, which was made conditional on a deadline for the exchange of documents.  The deadline passed: no documents.  So the second joint meeting was postponed, and as I write, I am hoping that I receive a packet of documents from my client’s husband tomorrow morning.  But I am not optimistic.  At a certain point, it will become necessary to manage my client’s expectations about the pace of the process, even though she has already let on that with her husband, it’s often a case of “hurry up and wait.”  Sometimes I think that if clients, whether in the traditional or the Collaborative process, knew how long the process would likely take, they would think twice about starting it to begin with.  I do believe that, in fact, the Collaborative method presents the possibility of a swifter process because the clients are more commonly in synch.  But even in Collaborative, where the parties are in different stages of readiness with respect to the divorce, or where one party is just more naturally efficient than the other, weeks can turn into months.  However, the best advice I can give antsy parties in a Collaborative divorce is not to give up any expectations of the process moving as fleetly as they hope, but rather is to work consistently toward resolution while cultivating a Zen-like approach to the process that allows it to run its course, as if it had a life of its own.  This, too, shall pass, one way or another.


Joshua Gitelson comes to the practice of law via a first career in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, as a film editor and writer for motion pictures and television. The son of a lawyer on the one hand and a clinical psychologist on the other, Josh has gravitated toward family law as an amalgam of these two “family businesses.” His parents’ amicable divorce inspired him to help others through the divorce process with as little rancor and conflict as possible. As a result, Josh has embraced the collaborative divorce model as a technique to complement his work on divorce in the traditional litigation mode. Learn more at https://www.lindawray.com/CM/AttorneyBios/JoshuaGitelson.asp.

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