Top 5 Reasons to Choose a Collaborative Divorce
In every divorce there are specific issues that must be decided in order for each spouse to move forward with their new and separate lives.
Those issues are:
- How property and debt will be divided.
- Whether spousal support will be paid and, if so, how much for how long.
- What will happen with the children.
You and your spouse have choices in how those issues will be decided. There are a number of non-adversarial choices (mediation, attorney-assisted negotiation, and Collaborative Divorce) and adversarial choices (arbitration and litigation).
I believe that most families are best-served by choosing the Collaborative Divorce process.
- Control and privacy – In a Collaborative Divorce, you and your spouse control the process and the decision making in a private and supportive setting. In a traditional litigated divorce, a judge and the court system control the process and make the final decisions, all of which is a matter of public record—meaning the private details of your lives are available for anyone who wants to look them up.
- Better communication – A team of collaboratively trained professionals will guide educate and assist you and your spouse on how to effectively communicate with each other so you can make wise decisions for your future. This has obvious benefit beyond the initial collaborative divorce phase—it can help you and your spouse stay out of court if differences arise in the future, too. In a litigated divorce, the couple communicate and negotiate only through their attorneys so there is no opportunity to learn and practice better communication skills. This leaves you in the same or worse position when you have to work out issues, particularly children’s issues, in the future.
- No dueling experts – Jointly retained specialists, such as the financial neutral and a child specialist assist both parties in developing a mutually beneficial solution. For example, instead of two psychologists performing custody evaluations and testifying in court as to why the other parent is less qualified to have custody of the children, there is one child specialist who works with both parents to develop a parenting plan that will be best for the children. This specialist never sets foot in a courtroom.
- Non-adversarial – A litigated divorce is based upon the adversarial system where lawyers fight to “win.” This system fosters the concept that divorcing parties are at war, making negotiated resolution extremely difficult after staked-out positions become entrenched. The collaborative model is non-adversarial and encourages mutual respect of and open communications among all participants. Your lawyers are specifically trained to be your advocate in a non-adversarial way so that you are supported in the process, you are able to make your voice heard, and you can reach a solution with your spouse that meets the needs of the whole family. The lawyers and other professionals (financial experts, child specialists, and divorce coaches) work together as a team—your team—to help you and your spouse end your marriage in the way that is most healthy for your family.
- The bottom line – COSTS – In a Collaborative Divorce, costs are manageable and the team approach promotes efficiency. For cases with similar issues, Collaborative Divorce usually costs much less than litigated divorce, where the costs—financially and emotionally—are unpredictable.
No divorce is easy, and the Collaborative Process won’t be easy either.
When it comes to the end of a marriage, many chapters are closing—happy ones and sad ones. The Collaborative Process is different from any other method of reaching agreements in divorce matters because it offers support on every level to help families close those chapters in a healthier way and more cost-efficient way so everyone is free to move forward to their new lives less burdened by the baggage of the past.
In addition to her work with the Collaborative Divorce Center of Coastal Virginia, Ms. Bryant is a member of the Davis Law Group where she heads the Civil Litigation and Domestic Relations practices of the firm.
Her professional and community activities include membership in the International Association of Collaborative Professionals and the Virginia Association of Collaborative Professionals. In addition, she is a member of the Chesapeake Bar Association and the Norfolk-Portsmouth Bar Association, where she serves on the CLE and Program Committees. She is an active member of the Chesapeake Rotary Club, serving as the 2011-2012 club President and as a Paul Harris Fellow. SuAnne is an active member of Deep Creek Baptist Church and enjoys reading, cooking and spending time with her family.