Often when people decide to get divorced, their emotions are heightened and their ability to think rationally is not always at the forefront. As a therapist, I often encounter adults still struggling with their parents’ divorce. Some have experienced unhealthy and damaging conflict as children that negatively affect their present relationships.
It doesn’t need to be this way, however, with an option called Collaborative Divorce.
Collaborative divorce is a healthier way to get divorced, without the damage litigation often brings. It is a way to get divorced outside of court that keeps parents focused on their shared goals and allows them to make their own decisions regarding their divorce. The collaborative divorce process allows couples to maintain control over their divorce and work through issues with their collaborative team.
Here’s how it works:
Spouses each hire their own collaboratively trained attorney, a neutral collaborative facilitator (licensed mental health professional), and a neutral financial professional. The couple first meets individually and jointly with the licensed mental health professional, who helps them identify the specific issues of their divorce to be addressed. The licensed mental health professional talks about how the collaborative process works, and each team member’s role. The facilitator helps each spouse work through their feelings regarding the divorce and teaches them how to communicate and co-parent effectively during and after the divorce.
The spouses each meet with their collaborative attorney to talk about what needs to be divided. The attorney helps them to brainstorm options relating to settlement and timesharing.
The spouses each meet with the financial neutral who begins gathering all the information and paperwork regarding the couple’s income, assets, debt and expenses.
After spouses meet with the neutral licensed mental health professional, their own collaborative attorney, and neutral financial professional, the collaborative team develops an agenda for the first meeting and sets a date for the initial meeting. After working through all of the items on the agenda each meeting, a marital settlement agreement is drafted and then submitted to the judge to finalize the divorce process. Then it’s done.
The entire collaborative process typically takes much less time than litigation, is less expensive, less contentious, allows couples to make their own decisions regarding their divorce, and much more beneficial for the couple and their children. The collaborative divorce process allows for couples to communicate and co-parent after their divorce.
I am confident that the collaborative process is going to become the norm and litigated divorce will be a thing of the past for families. It doesn’t make sense to fight at the expense of your children. Divorce doesn’t have to mean devastation. It can be a healthy experience that can benefit you and your family.
Rachel Moscowitz is a collaborative divorce facilitator and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator. She is a member of Next Generation Divorce and the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. Visit NextGenerationDivorce.com or Collaborativepractice.com for more information.
In Collaborative Divorce, Pauline Tesler and Peggy Thompson, two pioneers in the field who train collaborative professionals around the world, present the first complete, step-by-step explanation of the groundbreaking method that is revolutionizing the way couples end their marriages. Working with a team of caring specialists that includes two lawyers, two coaches, a financial consultant, and a child specialist (if necessary), you and your spouse focus on building a consensus that addresses the needs of everyone who will be directly affected by the divorce. www.amazon.com
Having already written two books describing and illustrating the differences between the traditional courtroom divorce and the collaborative approach to dissolving a marriage, in A Free Divorce Handbook, Joryn Jenkins, a 35-year veteran attorney, has now turned her hand to exploring the issues raised and the problems addressed when a busy professional launches a collaborative divorce pro bono project. www.tbparenting.com/afreedivorce