Why am I so excited about collaborative divorce? Because it’s a positive thing, a change for the better! Today, when you consult the average attorney about a divorce, the lawyer’s first thought is to get his petition to dissolve the marriage filed before the other spouse does. It’s always a race to the courthouse, because the first to file has the advantage.
This makes traditional divorce war from the get-go; that petition for divorce is always a first shot across the bow. The lawyer often crams all the negative allegations he can into that first petition, in case the court refuses to permit him to amend his petition later, but, in the process, he creates conflicts even where there were none to begin with.
The traditional courtroom divorce process is destructive, not only emotionally, but also financially. Lawyers and experts, depositions and discovery, hearings and trials all sound expensive because they ARE expensive.
And, if there are children, they are always caught in the middle.
Even when my client “wins,” it never feels like a “WIN!” At the end, there’s never any money left for the family, and the stress of enduring the traditional courtroom divorce process is like no other trauma in the world.
Unlike traditional courtroom divorce, the collaborative process is constructive. Instead of being adversaries and gladiators in a very public courtroom, the lawyers serve as teachers and problem-solvers in a private and confidential quest to create the best possible resolution for both parties. The parties learn to problem solve, and to identify what they need, instead of just talking about what they “want.”
In the collaborative process, neither party has the advantage; they are always on equal footing. Any professionals involved are neutral so the parties’ money is not wasted on a battle of the experts. The process is transparent, so the parties’ money is not wasted on “discovery” and “motions practice” and a trial in the courtroom. And the entire process is confidential, unlike the traditional courtroom divorce.
Rather than creating enemies who must try to co-parent for the rest of their lives, the collaborative process creates divorced parents who are able to work together, to problem solve and to co-parent as their children grow and marry and become parents themselves. As a result, a collaborative divorce always feels like a WIN!