A Service Set
A Mind Set
A SERVICE SET AND MIND SET FOR PRESERVING
THE WELL-BEING OF INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES.
The Full Team Interdisciplinary Model of Collaborative Divorce allows for a private and dignified process to guide divorcing partners through their divorce while also preparing them for the future. Your team consists of six experts: a lawyer and a divorce coach for each of the clients, one financial specialist, and one child specialist. In this Expert-Team approach to divorce, you can be assured that the major areas of divorce will each be attended to by a specialist in that area: experienced divorce attorneys will provide legal advice and representation to each spouse, a financial planner who is certified in divorce financial planning will provide various short-term and long-term scenarios regarding division of property and cash flow, coaches will assist in promoting effective communication and keeping the process on track, and a child specialist will provide information on the many issues related to children and divorce and will act as the voice of the child. (Please see below for a more in-depth description of each expert role.)
Philosophy of this Approach: It makes sense in life to utilize experts; it saves time, money, and frustration, and increases confidence in the outcome. The full team approach is a collaborative model based on the idea that building experts into the process from the beginning is the best way to ensure this. More experts does not mean more cost,because you do not have more conversations/meetings, you simply target those meetings by expert rather than discussing everything with attorneys. In fact, collaborative divorce has been found to cost less than traditional divorce. But perhaps even more importantly, at its foundation is the desire to provide a process in which partners can divorce in as amicable and respectful a manner as possible, a process dedicated to preserving the dignity and emotions of each adult and each child experiencing this life transition, that keeps parent-child relationships strong and sets the groundwork for a positive co-parenting relationship. (Studies show that a collaborative settlement is reached faster than settlement in traditional divorce negotiation; greatly reduces the emotional trauma families experience in divorce, especially children; and results in increased cooperative co-parenting post divorce.) In a nutshell, though the marriage is ending, the process protects the family.
NON-ADVERSARIAL = SAVES TIME, MONEY, & PROTECTS CHILDREN
Full Team Interdisciplinary Collaborative Divorce is a process for resolving disputes respectfully. A non-adversarial approach, it utilizes specially-trained lawyers and a team of professionals to help the spouses negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement without using the court to decide any issues. Clients and their respective attorneys and team members work together toward the sole goal of reaching an efficient, fair, comprehensive settlement of all issues. The lawyers do not go to court or threaten to go to court. Settlement is the only agenda. Clients and attorneys sign the collaborative pledge, in which divorcing spouses and their attorneys all agree the attorneys are disqualified from going to court. This disqualification removes the process from the adversarial court system; it removes the threat of contentious litigation and takes the fear, hostility, and negativity out of the negotiations and instead allows parties to utilize non-adversarial conflict resolution and interest-based negotiation to come to a fair settlement agreement that both parties have designed and are comfortable with.
People sometimes wonder skeptically how spouses experiencing the level of anger and emotional pain that often comes with divorce can have a ‘collaborative’ divorce, especially with difficult issues such as infidelity, money mismanagement, etc. But that is exactly why this process works so much better than traditional adversarial divorce, as a team of compassionate experts helps spouses navigate those painful emotions and come up with a settlement acceptable to both. Also importantly, whereas in adversarial divorce the children’s emotions and experience can unintentionally become collateral damage in the fight, this process protects the children from extreme emotional fallout by keeping the divorce as low conflict as possible.
Collaborative Law Attorneys: The Attorneys address the legal issues that a couple faces in seeking a divorce. Attorneys will provide legal information and legal advice specific to their client’s situation. Your attorney will discuss with you your needs and interests, and how to get those best met in your separation and divorce agreement. Through problem-solving negotiations that do not include adversarial techniques or tactics, the attorney advises clients concerning applicable law and its effect on them and helps them draft agreements in the spirit of cooperation.
Collaborative Coaches: Coaches prepare you for successful amicable negotiation of a settlement agreement. They help you identify your underlying needs/interests/concerns, prioritize issues, and develop a plan for effective communication of the importance of those issues for you. Your coach will work closely with you in your development and effective utilization of skills needed to deal with critical issues involving the divorce. Coaches can also help handle emotional issues that might otherwise get in the way of the settlement process so each person can think clearly about the future, prioritize issues, communicate effectively, and move forward. This vital role allows attorneys to stay centered on what they know best, the law and reaching mutually satisfactory settlements.
Child Specialist: The Child Specialist helps parents with the vast array of child-centered issues, and helps the children be heard in a healthy way. Children are aware mom and dad have a team of people working with them to aid in the divorce, yet in traditional divorce a child rarely meets with anyone on this helping team, even though the divorce will have such a large impact on the child’s life. Our Child Specialists provide the child a voice in the divorce process by meeting with each child to assess the child’s needs and concerns. The child feels listened to and respected as an important member in the process, and in addition parents learn valuable information about how their child is thinking and feeling, and are better able to assist each child through the process. The Child Specialist can work with the child(ren) to address any specific emotional and practical day-to-day needs as they relate to the divorce process, and can help the parents do this. Lastly, the Child Specialist can help parents design a parenting plan that specifically address the defined needs of the child(ren) and family; the Child Specialist does not design the plan, but rather provides a wealth of information that parents utilize as they wish in making their final decisions.
Financial Specialist: This professional acts as a neutral party who assists both spouses in gathering all the financial information about the couple or family in a supportive and nurturing environment. Each client is encouraged to assist in financial disclosure and documentation of the income, expenses, assets, and debts of the family. The essential shift is from a data focus to a system focus, whereby the Financial Specialist listens and then helps the clients understand the overall picture created by their particular family’s financial situation. The knowledge gained by the clients through the data collection and documentation can aid each partner in achieving the financial settlement he/she desires.
COMPARING COSTS OF FULL TEAM INTERDISCIPLINARY COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE WITH OTHER APPROACHES
Experts = Efficiency. Empower yourself with expert knowledge and thus increase comfort in your decisions, avoid impasses by incorporating experts into the process up front, save time and money. The reality is that financial experts and child specialists are often used in divorce, though typically they are brought in once a couple has been stuck for a while and cannot come to any agreement. Having been stuck for a while means that money has been spent on attorney meetings to no avail; it is wasted money, and wasted time along the way, plus the added emotional turmoil that results from an impasse. There are two main ways that are effective in getting people in negotiation past impasses: (1) increase their knowledge of a subject so that they can then consider more possibilities, and/or (2) improve their ability in communication and negotiation. The latter is different depending on what is hampering the person’s abilities, which can include lack of assertiveness or fear of direct confrontation, emotional baggage, inability to control one’s temper, or even a simple lack of experience in negotiation. By incorporating experts into the process from the beginning, the entire process moves more quickly, and impasses are avoided, thus saving time, money, and stress. Our expert areas are chosen wisely: people most often argue over children and/or money.
To most people, whether you are wealthy, middle of the road, or struggle financially, money matters. That is, we all like to feel our money was spent usefully. Overall Full Team Interdisciplinary Collaborative Divorce costs are generally dramatically less than legal fees for a contested divorce (one that concludes with a court trial or hearing), and equal to or less than a more traditional adversarial divorce model in which both parties retain attorneys to represent them but may conclude by settlement without a court trial or hearing.
As with the more traditional adversarial divorce model, in the Divorce Expert-Team approach both parties retain attorneys to represent them. The goal in the Divorce Expert-Team approach is to conclude by settlement without a court trial or hearing. Consider the costs of a high conflict divorce that ends in litigation: on-line divorce calculators for North Carolina put the cost of litigation at between a low of $26,000 to $130,000 or more PER SPOUSE, and this cost includes attorney fees only (outside experts are often used in litigation and thus there are fees in addition of attorney’s fees). In addition, litigation takes away your control and gives control to the judge. Judicial discretion. That is what litigation ends in. You pay tens of thousands or over a hundred thousand dollars… and you don’t even have the final say. Nor does your spouse. Nor do the attorneys you’ve been working so closely with. The irony is that the judge may come up with conditions that neither you nor your spouse are happy with. We’d like to help you avoid that. Though it may require some compromise, you ultimately maintain shared control of the negotiation process and self-determination of the outcome if you avoid litigation.
Consider the costs of a low to moderate conflict divorce using the traditional adversarial divorce model in which both parties retain attorneys to represent them and concludes by settlement without a court trial or hearing: on-line divorce calculators for North Carolina put the cost at between a low of $6,000 to $30,000 or more PER SPOUSE, and this cost includes attorney fees only (outside experts are often used in settled cases and thus there are fees in addition of attorney’s fees). The Divorce Expert-Team approach can help keep you at the lower end of, or below, this $6K-$30K per spouse range by its built-in format of experts, efficiently helping you to clarify your underlying needs/interests needs, empowering you with expert knowledge so that you feel more certain about your positions and potential areas for compromise, increasing your comfort in negotiation, and allowing you to feel comfortable with the final settlement.
FIVE BENEFITS OF FULL TEAM INTERDISCIPLINARY COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE
(1) REDUCE STRESS
Knowing you have a team of experts working with you can be very comforting and empowering. Increasing your breadth and depth of knowledge regarding the financial issues related to divorce, and the child issues related to divorce if you have children, results in more confidence and control of the divorce process, and thus reduced stress. In addition, the entire team is focused on helping you reach a settlement that will be acceptable to you without a high-stress battle.
(2) PROTECTS THE CHILDREN
Studies show that a collaborative divorce settlement greatly reduces the emotional trauma families experience in divorce, especially children. Whereas in adversarial divorce the children’s emotions and experience can unintentionally become collateral damage in the fight, this process protects the children from extreme emotional fallout by keeping the divorce as low conflict as possible. Research findings confirm the importance of keeping conflict low in the divorce process for the benefit of the children.
(3) INCREASES YOUR COMFORT WITH YOUR FINAL SETTLEMENT
With increased knowledge comes increased comfort with the final settlement. You will have clarity as to the meaning of your settlement and the process you took to agree to the final terms.
(4) PROMOTES COOPERATIVE CO-PARENTING
The amicable design helps to lessen conflict and focus on your children’s needs and on improving your parenting relationship over time. Couples with children are required to co-parent for many years, and thus they often have a compelling interest in managing their relationship with each other with dignity and respect. This approach promotes this objective, with the obvious benefit to your children and to your own sense of personal peace. Research findings confirm the benefits parent-child attachments and of mediation-based approaches on post-divorce parent-child relationships.
(5) REDUCE TIME AND COSTS
The legendary costs of both traditionally settled divorce disputes and divorce trials can quickly deplete any assets you have accumulated during your marriage. In contrast, the full team interdisciplinary collaborative divorce approach, with its built-in use of experts, accelerates the conclusion of divorce or parenting disputes. This affords cost savings, making this a truly affordable alternative. Longitudinal research over 10 years has found collaborative divorce generally takes less time and costs less than traditional divorce.
ORIGINS OF FULL TEAM INTERDISCIPLINARY COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE
Full team interdisciplinary collaborative divorce was developed during the 1990s in the Midwest by two experienced divorce attorneys who realized that the traditional adversarial system of divorce did not serve families well. It heightened negative emotions, was costly, and took a toll on the adults and children involved. They built on the skills utilized in mediation, focused on interest-based negotiation, and utilized specialists to bring their expertise to financial and child issues. The resulting process of full team interdisciplinary collaborative divorce has been used successfully throughout many parts of the U.S. and abroad for the last decade, and continues to grow in popularity.