Friday, June 1, 2012

5 Reasons to Use Collaborative Law for a Divorce after a Long-Term Marriage

Divorces for Baby Boomers and others who have been in long-term marriages can be complicated and emotionally difficult.  Unfortunately, the court system doesn't provide a very gentle or nuanced response to divorce situations.  Most often, courts take a one-size-fits-all approach.  They apply standard guidelines for child support and visitation and will divide assets on a roughly 50-50 basis, unless there are special reasons that might justify a  55-45 or 60-40 split, or something in that neighborhood.  Although the purse strings have loosened somewhat over the past few years, alimony is still not much of a factor.

One of the best ways to get an appropriate, customized, creative agreement is to utilize Collaborative Law.  Here are some reasons why it's a good approach for ending long-term marriages.

1.  The Collaborative process allows the parties to respectfully manage their emotions.    Both parties usually work with a neutral mental health professional (MHP) who can help the parties acknowledge anger, fear, anxiety or whatever other emotion shows up.  The MHP can also share constructive ways to deal with their emotions, and also help the other party accept the emotions without overreacting.

2.  A Collaborative divorce can proceed with reasonable speed to accommodate the needs of both parties. The process does not rely on arbitrary timetables that must be followed.  The parties, with professional guidance, work out their own schedule and plan for resolving the issues.  Collaborative Law allows both parties to be comfortable with the scheduling.  Sometimes the parties must take some financial steps, such as planning or finding employment, that  will take some time, and it is easy to find the time for that in Collaborative Law.

3.  Expert financial guidance is easily available.  We usually start off with a neutral financial professional (FP) who manages the gathering and organizing of the financial records. That is much more efficient than relying on attorneys and their staffs to supervise the financial information. If we need specialized financial help, a neutral, joint expert can be hired to deal with the issue.

4.  Privacy is protected.  Virtually all work is done in private, confidential meetings.  We don't have hearings at the courthouse and don't do formal discovery or depositions.  We reach private agreements as we progress, instead of having multiple public hearings.

5.  Cost is reasonable.  Collaborative Law is not cheap, but there are some cost savings.  We utilize single, neutral experts whenever needed, in addition to the MHP and FP.  When there is a business or real estate to be appraised, we use one agreed-upon expert instead of dueling experts.  Much of the preliminary work is done with the FP and MHP, without the attorneys being present, which saves a great deal of money.  Even when we have the full team present with the parties, meetings generally run more efficiently because of the experts guiding the discussions. 

Ending a long-term marriage is complicated and deserves a careful, competent and unrushed process. Collaborative Law is usually the best approach for everyone involved.

No comments: