Sunday, July 8, 2012

Professionals Getting Divorced Respectfully

Professionals of all kinds often live a high reward-high risk business life.  They do stressful work, whether they are doctors, lawyers, accountants, pilots, engineers, athletes, business owners or other professionals.  It has often taken a long time and a lot of hard work to reach a level of success and sometimes the family suffers.  Relationships are hard to maintain in the best of circumstances, and professionals often are called on to make personal sacrifices to advance in their careers.
As a result of many factors, professionals may end up facing a divorce.  If that time comes, they usually prefer to work through the process as quietly as possible, for many obvious reasons.  Because of that, Collaborative Law has become an attractive option for professionals dealing with divorce and other family issues.  Here are some considerations that lead to that conclusion:
1.  Collaborative Law affords the parties privacy.  Instead of filing various pleadings and motions in court, having hearings and depositions, and doing voluminous discovery, the parties in Collaborative Law have a series of short, private meetings to work out agreements.  It is a less-adversarial process and it works quietly in confidential meetings.  The parties agree to stay out of court until they prove up the final agreement.
2.  Collaborative Law permits flexible scheduling.  Many professionals are quite busy and just aren't able to suddenly change schedules and run to the courthouse or show up for depositions.  In Collaborative Practice, the meetings can be scheduled to work around the availability of the parties and minimize the inconvenience for everyone.  That rarely happens in litigation.
3.  Neutral experts are used in limited roles in Collaborative cases.  We normally use a neutral mental health professional (MHP) to assist the parties communicate effectively and deal with the stress of the process.  The MHP often helps the parties resolve children's issues as well.  In addition, we use a neutral financial professional (FP) to gather and organize the financial information.  The FP also leads the discussions reviewing the financial summary and generating options for property division.  If we need to get appraisals of real estate or business values, we hire one neutral expert to establish the values.  All of that is in contrast to litigation where each side independently usually hires their own set of experts, doubling the cost and increasing the fighting.
4.  Both sides are helped to be realistic.  Using neutral experts and having experienced Collaborative lawyers all working together to help the parties come to agreement truly benefits the parties.  Instead of encouraging the parties to take extreme positions in negotiations, the team helps the parties focus on their underlying goals and needs.  They also help the parties be reasonable in their objectives by openly dealing with the facts and information that is shared throughout the process.
5.  Help is available for the difficult emotions often experienced in divorce.  Collaborative attorneys are better prepared to deal with emotional issues, but even more important is the MHP who attends all the joint meetings and who can also work one-on-one, not to provide therapy, but to help the parties deal with the emotions and challenges of making important personal decisions and changing relationships.
Collaborative Law won't work for everyone, but it can be very effective and not as difficult or destructive as litigation, in the proper case.  Professionals can get information about Collaborative Law by talking with attorneys, MHPs or FPs who are trained in the process.  Good luck!

1 comment:

family counseling said...

I have read something about Collaborative Law some months ago but I have always been confused about the technicalities until I read your blog. I think Collaborative settlements are effective for any couple who will undergo divorce. These settings will ease both parties from making all the wrong decisions and fighting while making amicable deals that will be good for everyone, especially if there is a child involved. Thank you for sharing.