There are a number of ways to approach divorce, but all of them must, in the end, sort out the financial and practical matters that have resulted over the years of marriage. It is important to ask how the emotional underpinnings surrounding all of the family and financial issues in a divorce will be addressed, because this will determine whether the conflict is used as a tool for further destruction or a tool for positive change.
In traditional approaches to the conflicts inherent in divorce, these emotional underpinnings are often used as fuel to ratchet up the conflict, but in Collaborative Divorce, the family members are assisted by the Collaborative Team to identify and address the apparent conflict and find the underlying need that gave rise to the conflict. Instead of the lawyers using the family conflict to build a case for their client (or, more often, against the other client), the Collaborative process involves a team composed of non-adversarial lawyers (one for each spouse), a child specialist, a neutral financial specialist, and divorce coaches to help create a save container in which the family conflict can be managed in a way that allows the family to have a choice in how one of the most emotion-filled minefields they have ever navigated. While this may sound involved and expensive, national and international studies have shown that despite involvement of a number of professionals, the financial cost is actually lower, and there is no way to measure the emotional cost savings, but they certainly are just as real and just as important.
The Collaborative divorce process typically provides clients with the highest probability of achieving well-informed agreements that they can live with in the future while controlling the cost and the way conflict is used. The primary reasons for this are:
1) All Collaborative Divorce professionals are trained and skilled in the art of interest-based negotiation. This method of negotiation enables people in conflict to identify their underlying interests and needs, to generate options that might meet those interests and needs while also addressing those of the others as well, and then to negotiate a resolution. Collaborative Divorce uses this forward-looking approach to address all of the issues that couples bring to the table and is extremely effective in generating client-centered solutions. In Collaborative Divorce, the spouses are not limited to the narrow scope of issues a court may want to address. They are free to negotiate agreements that touch any of the concerns they have, from who gets the house to who gets Fido and who pays for the kids’ college tuition.
2) Each client is represented by a Collaboratively-trained Lawyer to advocate for them in a non-adversarial manner regarding the legal aspects of divorce and to finalize the negotiation in a legally binding document.
3) Collaboratively trained Communications Specialists are used as case managers to identify emotional ‘hot buttons’ and employ communications tools and techniques that enable the negotiation process to move forward more effectively and efficiently.
4) Financial Specialists trained in the collaborative methodology and in divorce-related financial and tax issues are engaged to bring organization to the family finances for open and informed discussion. These professionals are skilled in taking the sting out of what otherwise might typically be difficult or impossible conversations, and working to create new ways of seeing and talking about money and financial matters so that the family can move forward with a more clear picture of the finances. The Financial Specialists also educate the clients and professional team the financial impact of variations of settlement options. Our teams have found that many families who have gone through the process have emerged in far better financial circumstances than when they started the process. This rarely happens in other approaches to conflict management in divorce.
So, is divorce possible without conflict? Usually not, but that does not mean the conflict must be destructive. With the right Collaborative team working with you, conflict can be used as a catalyst for positive change. For help resolving your divorce conflict collaboratively, call the Collaborative Divorce Center of Coastal Virginia now at 757-819-7739