Are you considering divorce and concerned about the effect divorce litigation can have on your children?
Have you known others who just can’t stop the fighting while their children seem caught in the middle?
Are you undecided about whether to take this risk and proceed with the divorce?
The Collaborative divorce is a way to conduct your divorce that could greatly reduce the risk of trauma to yourself and your children.
I help divorcing families avoid unnecessary pain, expense and conflict through alternative processes that acknowledges that it is the parties themselves, with guidance from their advisors, who are best qualified to determine their future and the future of their children.
I help divorcing parents discover solutions that will minimize conflict for them and for their children.
I do this by providing a safe environment in which you can discuss your options and receive advice from respected professionals who can contribute to your decision making process.
You may feel that it is impossible to resolve your issues without a ‘fight’. I know your stress about this is great and real. Many of my clients felt the same way at the beginning of the process however, as we worked through this together they found that disagreement does not require anger, asserting their opinion does not need to produce a hostile response.
I recently completed a case in which the couple had two children under the age of ten. When we started out, Mother was sure that an appropriate parenting plan could not be fashioned due to her husband’s erratic work schedule and his current anger over the situation. I won’t say it was easy. There were some rough times when, I think, both of them wanted to give up. However, to their credit they were able to maintain their focus on what was best for their children. The result was a parenting plan that worked!
In order for you and your spouse to understand how this process can work I can send you printed materials to review, if you wish, and suggest you look at other pages on this site where articles and links to complementary sites are listed.
My passion for this process comes from the personal experience of a divorce where there was litigation, accusation, pain, stress and undue expense. Your shoes used to fit my feet. In addition to knowing, somewhat, how you feel, I bring twenty seven years of experience as an attorney. My ability to relate to the other professionals that may be involved in finding your solution will help the process go forward in the direction you have chosen.
I established the Collaborative Divorce and Mediation Center to help family law clients achieve their legal goals without the need for courtroom litigation. Call 303-554-1415 or contact me via email to schedule a consultation.
Overview of the Benefits of the Collaborative Process
Decrease in Conflict
In a Collaborative Process each parent is not only represented, but also heard. The parent is a part of each and every decision, whether it is about the children, the finances, or the family home. Each Collaborative team is created to help all family members not only survive, but thrive. When divorcing partners are represented, heard, and respected, conflict decreases and the focus becomes finding solutions for all concerned.
Each party is a vital part of the settlement team. The "opposing counsel" and "opposing party" are treated as vital parts of the settlement team, not adversaries. Attorney-counselor assistance is available for advice and information throughout the process. This may include additional assistance from child psychologists, accountants, therapists, actuaries, appraisers, and virtually anyone with the special expertise needed to assist a party or provide information helpful to the negotiations. Power imbalances are equalized because each side has the support they need and negotiations are conducted openly and informally with all participants present.
This climate of cooperation reduces the stress that accompanies any divorce.The Principles and Guidelines for the Practice of Collaborative Divorce provide a common set of rules that each spouse, attorney, and any other participant, must agree to follow in good faith in carrying out the Collaborative Law process. These Guidelines are intended to eliminate the kind of insensitive conduct and practices aimed at exploiting the weaknesses of the other side that too often occur in the adversarial setting. In Collaborative Divorce all participants provide an open, honest exchange of information. Neither takes advantage of the other or of the miscalculations or inadvertent mistakes of others, but instead identifies and corrects them. Part of the attorneys’ responsibility is to hold the divorcing couple to their commitments in this regard.
Since all agreements are made before any court appearance, the details of your divorce will not be shared in open court thus assuring your privacy.
Focus on the Children’s Best Interests
In the Collaborative Process, concerned parents can consult a Child Specialist regarding their concerns about their minor children w/o court involvement.
Representation of Both Spouses Financial Interests
A neutral financial specialist can be engaged to look at short-range and long-term goals for both partners and can educate both of you as to your options.
The opportunity exists to learn skill-building and improve communication with your spouse.
The process is focused on your family’s future
Rather than focusing on the past, the Collaborative process helps you work in the present, with
the goal of planning for the future.
The process can be less costly than litigation and does represent a better value
Consider that most traditional cases settle under the pressure of a court hearing date that is rapidly approaching. Compromises are made. Many important issues can be overlooked resulting in more post degree hearings. (This is a complaint heard from many judges.) The Collaborative team seeks a win-win situation and the co-operative spirit allows the parties to formulate a much more comprehensive agreement and parenting plan.
A climate of cooperation reduces the stress that accompanies any divorce
The Principles and Guidelines for the Practice of Collaborative Divorce provide a common set of rules that each spouse, attorney, and any other participant, must agree to follow in good faith in carrying out the Collaborative Law process. These Guidelines are intended to eliminate the kind of insensitive conduct and practices aimed at exploiting the weaknesses of the other side that too often occur in the adversarial setting.
In Collaborative Divorce all participants provide an open, honest exchange of information. Neither takes advantage of the other or of the miscalculations or inadvertent mistakes of others, but instead identifies and corrects them. Part of the attorneys’ responsibility is to hold the divorcing couple to their commitments in this regard. This climate of co-operation can make the process less time consuming than a litigated case.
Each party has the assistance of counsel
Collaborative Divorce is designed to provide the benefits of attorney assistance while avoiding the negative atmosphere of litigation. The team can focus on settlement without the imminent threat of "going to court"
In Collaborative Divorce a respectful, creative effort to meet the legitimate needs of both spouses replaces tactical bargaining backed by threats of litigation. The extreme “positions” typically expressed in court pleadings and hearings are not a part of Collaborative Divorce.
This transparency across the team allows parents and children to focus on healing from the divorce
In the Collaborative process you and your partner can make decisions that work best for your family. Because the decisions and plans are all made with your circumstances in mind, there is also a better chance of everyone complying with the agreement.
You are in control of the proceedings
Judges decide the issues in a litigated divorce. And a judge "simply cannot understand the complexities and nuances of a family’s situation after hearing the limited information presented in even a one or two day trial.
In the Collaborative Divorce process, the resolution of the issues is in the clients' hands, rather than a disinterested and often not very well-briefed third party (the judge). Additionally, the judge has limited tools with which to solve the issues. Often in litigation, the judge is unable to take into consideration a factor which is crucial to the long-term well being of the family.
The collaborative process leaves the decision-making power with the participants, without constraining their creativity or the options they have to solve their own problems.
Keeping your in-laws
The decease in conflict and polarization of the family may allow the marriage to be dissolved in such a way that you can maintain a good relationship with your in-laws.
What happens if settlement cannot be reached?
Even if the team is able to settle only some of the issues through the collaborative process, the parties do have options. They can agree to submit the remaining issues to arbitration or proceed to litigation with new counsel.
In the event you decide to litigate the remaining issues your collaborative attorneys will remain involved until you have obtained new counsel.