Divorce Without Destruction
If you ever watched the Oscar-award winning movie Juno, you might recall Husband Jason Bateman suggesting, “We can get a collaborative divorce. I hear it’s all the rage.”
He’s right. There are over twenty times more collaborative professionals now than there were just ten years ago. And this explosion is changing how folks get divorced around the world, from the frozen north to the Far East and back again.
Keep Your Decisions In-House
Here’s why. One of the biggest advantages of a collaborative divorce is that the spouses get to stay out of court. In fact, both clients and their lawyers sign a document promising they will work on reaching agreement without going to court. (Of course, the clients can always change their minds!)
Immediately, this sets the mood; it won’t be an “us” verses “them” battle. Instead, it’s a team approach in which you, your spouse, and your lawyers sit around a table openly discussing your needs and interests. Your collaborative team can also include a facilitator, divorce coach, financial expert, child specialist . . . you can bring whatever expertise your family needs to restructure itself to your table. Together, you and your team come up with creative solutions that help you both feel more confident about your futures, and those of your kids.
For instance, in traditional litigation, a court will often require the parties to sell their house and split their assets. In a collaborative divorce, you are not limited to the same choices that, by law, restrict a judge’s decision-making. For example, you might decide it’s better to rent your home for a couple of years and then buy it from your ex or sell it later, when the market improves. The team helps you explore all possible options and decide what’s best for you and your family.
Don’t Make Decisions Out Of Fear
Working with a team of collaborative professionals achieves something else. It keeps you clear-headed and focused throughout the process. For my clients, this has been crucial. Time and time again, folks embark on their divorce process, drowning in their emotions, stunned and helpless to make intelligent decisions. They’re so frenzied, suffering from something not unlike post-traumatic stress disorder, that they can’t evaluate their situation properly. The result: they make decisions that they later can’t help but regret.
Instead, a collaborative team helps you see clearly during this trying time, enabling you to make ideal long-term decisions.
And in a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse retain control. You dictate the pace of the meetings and the settlement terms. This saves you considerable time and money.
Give The Kids A Seat At The Table
More importantly, your children don’t become courtroom bargaining chips or suffer added emotional stress either.
Your team’s coaches and child specialist help you understand what your children might not admit. This gives children a voice in the process which relieves much of the grief, anger and fear that divorce often brings.
Till Death Do Us Part
What’s more, the collaborative model takes into account the fact that, after a divorce, you don’t stop being a family. The model redefines your family structure – acknowledging that you still have a future together, tied together by your history and by your children.
That’s why you won’t hear unfriendly legal terms like “custody” or “visitation.” After all, you don’t want to “visit” your children; you want to spend time with them, right? And the reality is, you want to attend their school concerts, watch them blow out the candles on their birthday cakes and someday dance at their weddings, without worrying about who else might show up.
Collaborative divorce may not leave you all holding hands and giving each other group hugs, although I’ve seen that happen. Sure, meetings can get stressful and you’ll need to step out to take a calming breath of fresh air. You’re human. Divorce is rarely easy.
We Will Move On Together
That’s when your trained team becomes invaluable. Your team gently guides you both back to the issues at hand so you can move past the tough emotions that are sure to surface. And, with a clear head, you can address those issues and move on, developing fair solutions that let everyone – you, your ex, and your children – heal faster and confidently look forward to the future.
It’s your divorce, so it should be your decisions that drive your process. To see if the collaborative model is right for you, visit us at Open Palm Law or email me at Joryn@OpenPalmLaw.com. We are here for you, AND for your family!
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Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, two of which she served as a professor of law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen Award, an honor bestowed in the United States Supreme Court upon those who have provided exceptional leadership in the American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.