The Collaborative Divorce Process threeboxes01

What is the Collaborative Law Process?
The role of the Collaborative Lawyer
The role of the Collaborative Mental Health Professional
The Neutral Financial’s role in a marital divorce
Benefits of The Collaborative Law Process

What is the Collaborative Law Process?

img02The collaborative process offers a format for both clients and their lawyers to voluntarily opt out of the traditional court-mandated process in order to resolve their differences in an informal atmosphere of dialogue. It mandates full disclosure and exchange of all information necessary to reach an informed resolution of the dispute.

It also calls for joint retention of neutral consultants such as certified public accountants, financial planners and child development therapists when needed to address financial, parenting and emotional aspects of the divorce.

Using this method assures maintenance of confidentiality so that reports and other data prepared by the allied professionals is secure and free from use in court if the collaborative case terminates and the parties proceed to litigation.

Most importantly, this process compels a good faith commitment on behalf of both parties to be fair, reasonable and respectful with each other.

The role of the Collaborative Lawyer

The Collaborative process usually begins with hiring a lawyer. Each Client must be represented by a separate, independent lawyer in the process.

In California, there are organizations which provide training to lawyers in the Collaborative Process. Our lawyers are committed to providing the highest quality of ethical representation to their Clients and a commitment to the Collaborative Process of dispute resolution.

img03 Family Divorce Solutions is a group of well-respected, experienced and trained attorneys, mental health professionals, financial professionals, and child specialists who work as a team to reach a complete and satisfactory resolution of the parties’ dispute.

The Collaborative Lawyer is dedicated to identifying and articulating the Clients’ interests and goals. The Collaborative Lawyer should at all times be faithful in their representation of the, representing the Client in pursuit of the stated interests and goals. Faithful representation includes informing the Client about the law and its application to Client’s matter, preserving the confidentiality of the attorney-client relationship, and assisting the Client to develop approaches to resolve the dispute without the need to resort to adversarial proceedings.

The Collaborative Lawyer explains to the Client how the process allows for resolution of disputes outside of the restrictions and limitations imposed by traditional judicial litigation system.

The Collaborative Lawyer fosters mutual respect between the Clients and lawyers as well as other professionals involved in the process. Their commitment to a civilized resolution to the Clients’ dispute is paramount.

Role of the Collaborative Mental Health Professional

The Divorce Coach assists each party with coping, goal setting, co-parenting issues, clarification of needs and wants, stress management, effective communication and decision making.

img04The Neutral Process Facilitator acts as the facilitator of the team and the process working to move past deadlock issues, keeping the meetings on track and productive (saving you money) and managing the emotional content of meetings. As a neutral party, the facilitator works with the parties and other team members in joint meetings to assist in resolving specific issues. Other services provided to both parties are effective communication skills, goal setting and providing coping skills.

The Child Specialist ensures that the emotional needs and concerns of each child are considered by the parents and the team. Meets with the children to give voice to their concerns, issues and needs. Works with the team to create a parenting plan including time sharing, short and long term support, and activities designed to provide a healthy, stable environment where children can grow and thrive.

The Child Specialist will increase parents’ awareness of what children are likely to be thinking and feeling during separation and divorce, as well as educating them on signs of anxiety and depression in children.

The Neutral Financial’s role in a marital divorce

img05For decades the legal community has relied on the abilities of accountants to assist them in understanding and analyzing financial issues related to legal proceedings. In divorce proceedings these accountants, known as forensic accountants, have specialized in preparing documents and reports for clients going through divorce including; but not limited to: Gross Income Available Reports; Marital Standard of Living Reports; Business and Professional Practice Valuations; Community/Separate Property Balance Sheets; Separate Property Analysis; Reimbursements; and, Income and Expense Reports/Projections.

Forensic accountants have historically assisted lawyers and clients with these reports through litigation. However, in about 1992, Stewart Webb, Attorney at Law, thought there must be a better way and hence, the collaborative process began. Through transparent full disclosure and an honest approach to addressing the issues, the clients resolve their marital dissolution in a more efficient process. This results, on most occasions, in cost savings while the clients learn how to work with their spouse in a respectful manner, a byproduct of which also benefits the clients’ children.

The neutral financial professionals at Family Divorce Solutions consist of forensic accountants and financial planners who provide financial options to the clients thereby empowering the clients to choose their options which work best for them and their family. With the combined experience of over 60 years in the dissolution arena, the neutral financial professionals at Family Divorce Solutions help guide you through the financial process in a marital divorce, whether through collaboration or mediation, in the most efficient manor possible without going to court.

Benefits of The Collaborative Law Process

    • An opportunity to maintain dignity and respect for each other, particularly when there are children, so that a potentially destructive relationship can be turned into a reconstruction of a relationship in divorce or separation situations.
    • An opportunity to tailor-make resolution through an agreement that is unique to the particular needs and interests of each client.
    • An opportunity for clients to “think out of the box” and create options in their own agreement or understanding which may extend beyond the discretion of what a court-mandated order would look like.
    • An opportunity for the clients to most likely save resources that would otherwise be expended in the traditional court-mandated process through use of informal conferences rather than through depositions, interrogatories and court appearances.
    • An opportunity to gain expertise, energy and commitment from the allied professionals making up the collaborative team (lawyers, mental health and financial professionals).
    • An opportunity in divorce or separation for the clients to prevent their children from becoming innocent victims of the divorce.
    • An opportunity to achieve the ultimate goal of a “win-win” result.
    • An opportunity for the clients to control their own destiny without relinquishing their right to directly participate in resolution of the dispute.
  • Beyond divorce and separation the collaborative law process is applicable in other civil disputes particularly where there may be ongoing relationships such as heirs in an estate, landlord-tenant, business partnerships or employer-employee situations.