Last week we introduced the concept of collaborative divorce. If you missed that short essay, you can find it here. This week we will explore some of the prominent features of the collaborative process relative to the traditional adversarial divorce process most people know and fear.
- Team Effort. The collaborative divorce process uses a holistic team approach to help the parties make the best possible informed decisions. Each collaborative team will have two lawyers who represent their respective clients, a Mental Health Professional (MHP) who is a licensed mental health professional who serves to help advise the parties on emotional or familial decisions, and a Financial Professional (FP) who is a CPA, who will help the parties work out financial decisions for distributing the estate and budgeting.
In a traditional adversarial divorce, the parties get legal advice from their attorney, but they are left to fend for themselves with financial and mental health issues they face. Family law attorneys are seldom equipped or licensed to provide advice about investments, tax consequences, how annuities will eventually pay out, or the psychological effects of the divorce on the parties and children, so the collaborative process offers significant advantages by using a team of multi-disciplinary professionals.
- Time Savings. The collaborative process uses a series of team meetings and smaller meetings to settle the divorce. In many cases, the parties will attend five to eight team meetings that are scheduled roughly two weeks apart to settle the entire divorce. Some collaborative divorces take more time because all six people must be able to agree on the date for each subsequent meeting, but it is not uncommon to be completely finished with complex divorces in a few months.
Right now in Tarrant County, Texas, several of the district courts that handle family law cases are scheduling final trial dates out in the summer or fall of 2018—roughly a year wait for people filing divorces in September of 2017. The collaborative divorce process, therefore can be completed much faster because it depends on the schedule of the parties and team, not the court’s calendar.
- Privacy. The collaborative process happens entirely out of the purview of the courts. The initial petition for divorce is filed in the court, and the final decree will eventually be filed in the court, but the entire process in between the filing of these two documents, including all the negotiations are held outside of the courtroom. Of course the parties have confidentiality from their own attorneys, but the negotiations are also confidential.
In traditional divorce, the parties must air their dirty laundry in public view in court. Even when there are no dark or embarrassing secrets held by the parties, just having to testify in open court about the details of the marriage is stressful. In the collaborative process, there is no testimony, no court appearances, or other public events so the privacy of the parties is protected.
- Cost Savings. The collaborative process uses a series of meetings to facilitate an agreeable divorce. The focus is on providing an efficient and thorough process. Collaborative divorce trained professional work to reduce hassles and conflict to get the process done quickly and completely. This professional work provides immense value for the parties, and it costs money, but compared to a two year hotly contested and litigation-centric divorce, the cost is much less. A byproduct of the collaborative process is that the settlement usually endures longer than in normal divorces, so the parties save more money by not having to re-litigate issues every few years.
Adversarial divorce features numerous hearings, depositions, compulsory investigations into the parties’ financial, criminal, sexual, and employment histories, and a final trial that alone can take a week. Each of these events costs thousands of dollars. Because of the efficient nature of collaborative divorce, thousands of dollars can be saved by the couple.
There are numerous other benefits of collaborative divorce, safety of the parties being one. The parties also absolutely own their own destiny in a collaborative divorce, rather than having a judge decide their fate. The parties are empowered to make long term decisions early in the process so there is a smoother transition into the post-divorce life. Additionally, should the collaborative process fail, litigation is still available for the parties, but the financial documents and parenting plan provisions already produced for the parties can carry over into the litigation thus saving more money.
Youngblood Law, PLLC is a Fort Worth, Texas family law firm that uses a holistic approach to help people get on with their new life by getting done with their old life. #beforeyournext make sure this spouse is your ex! This essay is intended for educational use only, and is not a replacement for competent legal counsel. If you are facing a family law matter, we recommend obtaining competent legal counsel like Youngblood Law, PLLC. For more information contact us at 817-601-5345, find us on the web at www.youngblood-law.com, or on your mobile device, open your browser and type in lawfw.biz and press Go.
Paul Youngblood #beforeyournext #lawfw #youngbloodlaw #singleforjinglejingle #collaborativedivorce