Friday, July 15, 2011

Why Is It Taking So Long? (Part 2)

In part one of this topic, we pointed out that Collaborative Law usually doesn't take as long as a significant, contested litigation case. In addition, there are some reasons why Collaborative cases require a number of meetings.

When you are the person attending the meetings, doing the homework and meeting with your attorney and the neutral mental health professional (MHP) and the neutral financial professional (FP), it can seem like a very slow process. You stay busy and it may seem like one meeting after another, with no end in sight.
In reality, there are good reasons for being methodical and following through with the process. Here are some of the reasons:

1. People need time to process information.
No matter how educated or experienced you and your spouse may be in financial and child-related issues, it will take each of you different lengths of time to process the information relating to the issues in the case. Not very many people are comfortable making instant decisions on important personal financial and family issues. There are usually many options and even more considerations for each party.

2. One spouse is usually farther ahead emotionally in the divorce process than the other spouse.
That means that the parties and professionals are often slowed down to wait on the less-farther-along spouse to get comfortable with changes in his/her life. It is not uncommon for one spouse to have checked out of the marriage months or years before filing, while the other spouse is clueless. The clueless one will need time to catch up, and that necessarily slows down the process because things have to be done by agreement.

3. It often takes a while to gather information.
While one spouse is often very familiar with the financial issues, for example, the other spouse may be very unfamiliar with them, so extra care is taken to educate the other spouse. In addition, the FP may want to review documents that take a while to obtain, such as retirement account plans and summaries, for example. Some issues relating to the children may need to be sought out, especially if there are special needs.

4. The parties need time to come up with creative solutions.
Some issues are complicated and sometimes there are multiple significant issues. The parties and professionals need to create appropriate solutions and sometimes that's just a slow process. In some situations, the parties decide they need more information or more expert advice, which adds to time commitment.

5. It is usually necessary to limit the meetings to no more than two hours each. The parties and professionals get tired and that can lead to conflict or one party shutting down. There's no reason for the parties to get into a marathon negotiation session. That's often the way mediations are conducted, and it's often a problem. When there is a complicated estate or significant assets, there's a lot to cover and the discussions shouldn't be superficial. In such a stressful environment, people can operate effectively for only about two hours at a time.

The amount of time it takes to do a Collaborative case should not be an issue if you keep in mind that litigation would almost always take longer and there are good reasons why Collaborative Law cases take longer than you might initially expect.

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