Collaborative Divorce Practice

Jessica explains the Collaborative Divorce Process on Law Power Hour.

Listen to Jessica's guest appearance on Dr. Kyle Wallner's podcast explaining the Collaborative Divorce Practice in more detail and Dr. Kyle Wallner explains the health benefits associated with the process.

Divorce is difficult and layered with hurt feelings, lack of trust, guilt, fear and other emotional variables.  The Collaborative Process allows parties to actually face these feelings, address them, and successfully move forward.  During the traditional, adversarial divorce process, parties are less likely to find closure or heal from these emotional difficulties. This often leads to litigated disputes even after the divorce is finalized.  During the Collaborative Process parties are more likely to create a healthy relationship post-divorce, co-parent more effectively, and avoid continued disputes at the courthouse.  This process can really help families find quality resolutions and move forward in peace.

The Collaborative Divorce Practice is an innovative approach to divorce and domestic relations matters.  It involves an interdisciplinary team of trained professionals who commit to crafting a settlement tailored specifically to the family’s needs, without going to court.  The team will always include the clients and two collaboratively trained attorneys, but may also include a mental health professional, financial advisor, and/or a child specialist, who are each neutral participants.  The mental health professional handles the emotional landscape of the process.  Some teams will have a single mental health professional; other teams will have a divorce coach for each client.   A child specialist can be retained to include the children’s voices in the process if appropriate and a financial advisor can help with cash flow discussions, budgets, child and spousal support questions, valuation of businesses, etc.

The team holds as many settlement meetings as necessary until all issues related to the divorce or child custody are resolved.  The meetings move at a pace agreeable to the parties, without the pressure of rushing through settlement to comply with court deadlines. With about 2% of cases actually proceeding to trial, it makes sense to invest time and money on a process focused on the family’s unique goals and on working toward a positive restructuring of the family. 

The Collaborative Process creates an environment where parties can be open and honest, which is much more productive without the looming threat of Court appearances.  All discussions and negotiations are conducted with the clients intimately involved.  Children can be the focus of these settlement meetings and the parties can ultimately have a divorce that does not destroy the children. 

The glue that holds the Collaborative Practice together is the participation agreement that all members of the team must sign.  This agreement makes it clear that if at any point either party wants to litigate and proceed with an adversarial approach, the collaborative lawyers must withdraw and the clients must seek new attorneys.  While some see this as a negative part of the process, it truly commits everyone to the settlement meetings and focuses on long-term goals and quality resolutions.

While there are many benefits to this Process, it is not necessarily the best option for every family.  It is important to assess your divorce options based on your own circumstances.  Some families proceed with the traditional approach and/or mediation because there are less issues and emotions involved, or children may not be involved in the divorce.  In addition, the Collaborative Process would not be appropriate where domestic violence is of concern.  Find out the best option for you and your family.  Contact Attorney Jessica L. Pospiech today to learn more.