Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Cost of a Collaborative Case: Is It Cheap? Part 2

There's an old joke about divorce that sometimes goes like this:

Q:  Was your divorce cheap?
A:  No, but it was worth it!

That joke could now apply to Collaborative divorces.  They are not cheap, but, if people must go through a divorce, this process is a much better way to do it.  At the same time, there are some ways to save some money.  Generally, the parties are better behaved and managed and cases are better resolved.

1.     The process allows the parties and attorneys to avoid expensive activities.  In difficult litigated cases, a lot of actions are instigated to wear down the other side.  There are often multiple hearings for temporary orders, clarification orders, modifications, enforcement and other reasons.  It becomes a war of attrition as one side beats up on the other, all the while costing both parties much more money.  Another means of that is using demanding or threatening letters between the attorneys.

       Since Collaborative Law doesn't allow the parties to go to court, that avenue is eliminated.  In addition, there is a lot more direct communication and dealing with the issues in Collaborative cases, instead of posturing.  Plus, the other professionals are closely involved and helping.  For example, if there are visitation problems, the mental health professional will meet with the parties, if needed, to help them resolve the issues.  They can also be addressed directly in joint meetings and there is a great deal more direct communication, even between meetings, among the attorneys and other professionals.

2.     There's better decision-making in Collaborative cases. There are several reasons why the Collaborative process is generally better than litigation.
  • The parties participate in all decisions.  In litigation, often the attorneys tend to make many of the decisions, standard guidelines are used or the issue is turned over to a judge to decide.  In Collaborative cases, the parties participate in discussions and no agreement is made unless everyone agrees.
  • When needed, neutral experts are readily brought in and the mental health professional and financial professional are normally always involved, so the parties can easily turn to experts in Collaborative cases.
  • There is a focus on the future, instead of assigning blame for past problems.  Looking ahead and not looking back saves time and avoids unproductive arguing over fault. It also allows the parties to move ahead without further damage to their relationship.
3.     Finally, there's a greater commitment to the terms of an agreement than there is to the terms of an order imposed by an outsider, such as a judge.  There's more buy-in when the parties participated in creating a plan, compromised with each other and committed to the final terms.  Even though parties should follow an order from a judge, they are going to feel better and usually be more willing to follow their own agreement which is probably slightly (but importantly) different from a judge's order.  That usually means there's more compliance and less fighting post divorce!

 As the old joke suggests, divorce is rarely cheap, but if it's done right, it can be worth it.  If you are facing this difficult time, you should look into using the Collaborative Law process.

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