Many couples do not want to go through the contentious process of a litigated divorce. They have heard about a collaborative divorce and wonder if it will work for them.
What is a Collaborative Divorce?
A Collaborative Divorce is a structured divorce process where the couple works with a professional team of legal, mental health, and financial professionals who help you move through the process in an efficient and non-adversarial manner with the emotional and intellectual support you need to help you make informed decisions.
How Does the Collaborative Process Work?
There is an initial meeting where the divorce professionals sit down with both spouses to officially begin the collaborative process. In California the couple and the professional team all sign an agreement to enter into the Collaborative Divorce process. The issues that need to be resolved are identified and support is offered when those issues seem overwhelming. One of the prime advantages of the Collaborative Divorce process are the financial experts and the Divorce Coaches that are part of the divorce process.
- The financial expert. This neutral professional helps assemble the information needed for the financial disclosures that are required by law. Different scenarios for asset division are explored, including any potential tax consequences, for example, if you are considering selling the family home. The financial expert helps prepare budgets for each of you to help with the discussion about how to stretch funds that supported one household into funds to support two households. Short-term and long-term benefits and consequences of the financial decisions are discussed.
- Mental Health Professional/Divorce Coach. These professionals provide emotion support to assist you in making the important and often challenging decisions that divorce requires. If there are children, the Divorce Coaches help you and your co-parent have conversations about how you will share time with the children. The Coaches also help you make important co-parenting decisions, and can provide guidance about how to help your children through difficult transitions, such as going back and forth between two homes, moving to a new home, and changing schools if that is necessary. . The Divorce Coach provides compassion and direction that is need at this critical time.
The End Result: A Customized Settlement Agreement
The goal for the collaborative process is that you and your spouse end up with an agreement that the two of you have designed for your family. You will understand how your agreement would be different if the court were involved and had legal limitations, and how you can choose to resolve issues in manner that is different than what the law says, and create your own personalized divorce agreement that works for you and your family.
When the court accepts your agreement, its terms are incorporated into a final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage and you are both bound by law to comply with its terms.
For assistance with any aspect of your divorce, and to understand if the Collaborative Divorce will work for you contact the team at Chase, Berenstein and Murray, Counselors at Law to schedule a consultation. You may also call us at (650) 642-3897.