High profile divorces don’t have to be. “Kforce leader David Dunkel gives $8.2M in stock to ex-wife in divorce settlement” is splashed across the headlines of The Tampa Bay Business Journal. The article describes in specific detail the number and value of the shares involved in the divorce judgment, and that it’s pending appeal. But divorce is stressful enough, without having to be concerned about the public “reading all about it,” all the gory details of your divorce.
There are alternatives to traditional courtroom litigation, the most inclusive of which is the collaborative process.
Instead of hiring battling gladiators to duke it out in court, collaborative divorce enlists the aid of a specially designed team of professionals. The team is usually comprised of two collaborative lawyers, one for each party, as well as a collaborative neutral facilitator and a neutral financial professional. Other specialists can be retained along the way, as the need arises.
The foundation of the collaborative process is interest-based negotiation. Everybody involved works together to identify the parties’ needs, brainstorm options for getting those needs met, and then agree on a satisfactory resolution. A marital settlement agreement is drawn up and given to the court for entry of that all-too-necessary final judgment of dissolution of marriage.
The collaborative process has several advantages over litigation. First, as was pointed out earlier, the collaborative process keeps the parties’ information private. Usually, the final judgment is the only public record, and it doesn’t spell out the details of the spouse’s divorce. Second, the parties work together to come up with a resolution to their particular issues. Results? The appeal taking place in Dunkel’s case would never be necessary. Third, the collaborative process saves the precious resources of the parties. A typical courtroom divorce will cost approximately $100,000 just to get to the morning of trial, and that’s for each spouse, whereas a typical collaborative divorce can cost $30,000, for both spouses together.
Maybe if Mr. Dunkel had read my book about how to avoid the destruction of divorce court, or the CNBC article on how to avoid a nasty and costly divorce war, if more people knew about the collaboration solution, the public would be reading all about this business leader’s new marketing strategies, instead of his personal problems.