December 1, 2017Author: Steven Goldman
December 1, 2017Author: Steven Goldman
Over the past number of years, the family law landscape in Virginia has changed quite a bit. Before the 1990’s, there was only one true option for a couple seeking a divorce – go to court and have a judge decide the outcome. This method has obvious drawbacks: preparing for court and sitting through a trial is incredibly stressful, especially when your children are the subject of the proceedings; the process is long and arduous, often taking about one year from the date someone first files for divorce; the costs can be exorbitant. While to some this may be worthwhile and even necessary, most divorcing couples hope for exactly the opposite.
The public outcry for change precipitated options catered to what people really want – a quicker, more efficient process that focuses on improving the family’s future. In so doing, couples have started saving thousands (often tens of thousands) of dollars. How does Collaborative Divorce accomplish such a feat?
First and foremost, any couple that is able to work well together and come to agreements will naturally save the family a lot of money in the divorce process. However, most divorcing couples are not able to do that from day 1. Whatever led to the dissolution of the marriage probably has the parties divided on many issues. Collaborative Divorce is structured specifically to deal with such divisiveness, and accomplishes these goals in the following ways:
Collaborative Divorce depends on a team whose members share the same primary objective – keep the parties out of court. Collaborative Divorce attorneys are trained to avoid adversarial positions that often increase the tension between the parties. Instead, they focus on resolving the parties’ joint goals and interests. Accomplishing these tasks in unison can save thousands of dollars simply by keeping everyone on the same path throughout the process.
The Collaborative Divorce Coach, an intricate part of the Collaborative Divorce team, specializes in helping the parties cope with the emotional aspects of the divorce, as well as improving communications between the parties. They are also vital in resolving the issues pertaining to children. While most divorce attorneys may feel that they are already practicing unlicensed therapy, our skills pale in comparison to those of the incredible therapists, psychologists, and social workers that devote themselves to Collaborative Divorce. Improving the communications between the parties often leads to quicker agreements and a quick agreement saves money. An additional financial benefit – divorce coaches often charge much lower hourly rates than attorneys.
A Financial Specialist is another incredibly valuable member of the team. Instead of each attorney gathering and analyzing his or her client’s individual financial records, a potentially costly process, a Financial Specialist gathers the parties’ documents and summarizes the information for the rest of the team. This simple task can save the parties thousands of dollars on its own. A Financial Specialist also works with the parties in accomplishing individual financial goals and budgeting for the new living situation, tasks that expedite the negotiation process.
The Collaborative Divorce process focuses on improving communications between the parties and handling disputes effectively. These skills, learned during the divorce process, are just as important afterwards. While many divorced couples return to court to resolve future issues, those that effectively practice the skills learned during the Collaborative Divorce are more likely to resolve those issues prior to court intervention.
While the initial outlay for hiring the members of the Collaborative Divorce team may sound daunting and expensive, the collective effort helps reduce the overall costs to the parties. Instead of the attorneys handling all of these issues individually, often at much higher hourly rates, specialists are assigned to different tasks. A Collaborative Divorce Coach will often meet with the parties to discuss parenting schedules and decision-making processes, typically at a much lower rate than the attorneys, and summarize the results at the next team meeting. A Financial Specialist will gather records and create financial outlines, and then provide the condensed summaries to the rest of the team.
When practiced effectively, all members of the Collaborative Divorce team are working efficiently at their assigned tasks and focusing on the issues suited to their respective skillsets. The emotions of the parties, often the primary driver of costly divorces, are often subdued and refocused towards problem-solving. All-in-all, the Collaborative Divorce process is designed to promote efficiency, which can save families thousands of dollars best left for the future.