The very best first step you can take is to make sure you and your partner have retained attorneys. The right attorneys. Collaborative attorneys.
Year after year the statistics gathered continue to tell us better than 95% of all divorce cases settle. Therefore, does it make any sense at all to hire an attorney whose first step is to prepare for trial before ever discussing settlement? Some attorneys may tell you that by preparing for trial you may gain a tactical advantage over your partner that may well result in obtaining a settlement according to your terms. This may be true – part of the time – unless that provokes your partner to immediately find the best trial attorney available, and also prepare for trial – which also happens – part of the time.
By taking such an approach you are quite likely to destroy any possibility that you and your spouse will be able to reach a principled agreement between you. Once trust is destroyed the likely result is that the final resolution will be brokered by attorneys and judges. Neither of these people have the expertise that you do to understand the nuances of your situation.
The Collaborative Law Institute was created here in Minnesota in 1990 specifically to provide a choice to hire professionals who would guarantee to keep you out of court, AND provide a safe container within which each of you might obtain legal advice together with support in gathering all of the relevant information needed to reach a principled agreement, brokered exclusively by you.
It is a process by which a financial neutral professional will support each of you to gather all of the critical information regarding your financial circumstances. Someone to help both of you gather, assess and analyze your debts, obligations and cash flow. Someone to help obtain actual values of complex assets like stocks, bonds and investments; closely held corporations and businesses; the existence and value of both marital and non-marital assets; projected retirement assets for the family; the existence and coverage of all types of insurance – medical health and dental, automobiles and home owners coverage; life insurance and disability; assessments of special health needs of children or parents; examining the costs associated with raising and support minor children, possibly including college or advanced education or training.
So, the all important first step is to choose the path that resolves uncertainty by solving problems rather than fighting battles. To find the professionals who can empower both parties to have control over the final agreements reached. To lower your collective anxiety and allow you to proceed through a difficult time at your own speed. That is the possibility created by the collaborative practice model.
Once you have chosen a path that empowers you, the second step in preparing for successful negotiations is to use the expertise of your professionals and follow their advice. In the twenty-four years that collaborative law practice has been around, untold hundreds of professionals have contributed toward creating and evolving a model that works. Trust this process.
Some people are needing to control everything they can in their lives. If you are one of these people it may be difficult for you to let go of the reins and surrender to the process. This does not mean that you check out and stop paying attention to what is happening, but that you listen to the professionals and follow their advice.
In my next article I will take up the rest of the steps to take to prepare for successful negotiations.Tagged with: collaborative divorce process • Collaborative Family Law • conflict resolution • healthy divorce • productive conflict resolution