· Who’s a Candidate for Collaborative Divorce?
· How does Collaborative Divorce Work?
· What Should I look for in a Collaborative Divorce Lawyer?
Who’s a candidate for a Collaborative Divorce?
The simplistic answer is “almost everyone,” but I know that’s not too helpful.
For people who are handling their divorce well (even if it’s full of conflict) and who can handle sitting in a room with their spouse and talking about a settlement, mediation is probably the right choice. It’s faster and less expensive than Collaborative Divorce but it also assumes that you can handle being in the mediation room without a lawyer and therapist by your side (this is not always, but often, true)
If you like what mediation has to offer, but you’d feel more comfortable with having your own attorney and a coach who can help you organize your thoughts surrounding your settlement, then Collaborative Divorce is the choice.
How Does Collaborative Divorce Work?
In a Collaborative Divorce, each person has their own attorney. They also have a therapist-coach who helps you get through the process in an emotionally healthy way. It’s not therapy; it’s just a coach who can help you manage your emotions during the legal settlement process.
There’s also a neutral financial expert. That financial expert works for both you and your spouse (and with the attorneys and coaches) to help you both understand the entire financial picture. Once all of the financial pictures have been put together, the financial expert will make sure you both understand it. And once you understand it, the neutral financial expert will help each of you, and the team, generate options for settlement.
The neutral financial expert’s help is really valuable. He or she is trained to not only help you figure out what the settlement looks like for you today, but also the likely scenario in 5, 10 or 20 years. For example, if you decide you want to keep the house, will you run out of money at some point? It’s best to know that sort of thing BEFORE you sign your settlement rather than afterwards.
That’s the financial expert’s role.
The therapist-coach helps you manage your feelings while you’re going through the process. The meetings might be tense or upsetting. The therapist-coach will help you plan for that and help you decide in advance what might make things go more smoothly. They’re there for you as much or as little as you need them. Having a coach on your side can really help you get through your divorce in a sane and sensible way.
The lawyer’s main job is to make sure your legal rights are protected and that all the proper paperwork is filed. Your Collaborative Divorce lawyer will consult with you individually and help you explore all the options available. He or she can also help you determine if a settlement is fair and if it makes sense for you given your circumstances and the law.
I know this sound like a lot of people, but each professional has an important and distinct role. By using a coach, lawyer and neutral financial expert, you can actually streamline your case and resolve things more thoroughly than if you only had a lawyer because your settlement will have been examined with your goals and priorities in mind from a financial perspective, legal perspective, and emotional perspective.
And that really helps create a lasting settlement.
What you’re looking for in a Collaborative Divorce Professional
Someone who’s actually been to a Collaborative training in the last 3 years; As the field matures, there’s new information and experience to be shared at trainings.
As someone who attended a Collaborative Training given by the top trainer at the time back in 2003, I can tell you that the field of Collaborative Divorce has come a very, very long way.
The current gold standard for Collaborative Training is the Collaborative Divorce Institute Ask the person you’re interviewing whether they’ve been to a Collaborative Divorce Institute Training (they’re based on Phoenix, so a lot of people talk about “going to Phoenix for training”). And ask how recently they’ve been to training.
There’s an alarming trend in Los Angeles of family law attorneys calling themselves Collaborative Divorce Practitioners who haven’t actually been to a collaborative training. While plenty of lawyers know how to collaborate, working in a Collaborative Divorce model is a unique set of specialized skills.
Diana Mercer a Family Law attorneys Los Angeles and founder of Peace Talks Mediation Services; Peace Talks is a full service mediation law firm and team of therapist and mediator that specializes in helping people in collaborative divorce mediation, co parenting planning, prenups and premarital agreements.
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