Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Do You Really Need a Team of Professionals?

For some people, the leap from hiring a lawyer to hiring a team of professionals for a divorce is very difficult. In Collaborative divorces, it is common in North Texas and other areas for the Collaborative attorneys to select a neutral mental health professional (MHP) and a neutral financial professional (FP) to work with the parties.

The attorneys and other professionals divide up the work so that the best qualified people are in charge of gathering information and leading the discussions for their areas. The MHP leads in working on issues relating to children, if there are parenting issues. In addition the MHP leads joint meetings. The FP is in charge of gathering and organizing financial information for everyone.

Some people worry about the cost, others don't want a complicated process, while some feel more comfortable with a more traditional approach.

Cost. As you may know, attorney fees can be expensive. On the other hand, the MHP and FP typically charge roughly half the hourly rate of the attorneys.  In regular litigation, the attorney does all the work. In Collaborative, you have a specialist taking charge of the preliminary work for parenting and financial issues, but charging around half the rate of the attorneys who would have been doing the same work. Much of the MHP and FP's work is done directly with the parties and without attorneys being present. You get great results at a reduced cost.

Complicated.  Dividing responsibility so that the most qualified person oversees different areas and works directly with the parties is a less complicated process.  The preliminary work is done by specialists and then reviewed by all. The attorneys provide the legal overview to make sure an appropriate and enforceable order is the result.

Traditional approach.  The alternative is to file pleadings, go to court,  and negotiate with the courtroom looming in the background. You can let the judge apply a standard possession schedule and standard child support orders. The parties can exchange information through the traditional written Discovery process, which usually costs thousands of dollars before it is over. It all takes a lot of attorney time, which translates into cost.

If you happen to have a divorce where both sides are in agreement on everything, you don't need Collaborative Law. If you agree on getting a divorce, but disagree on the parenting issues or on the finances, you should consider a Collaborative divorce.