A good friend recently pointed out to me that Collaboration may best be described as a Decision Making Model. A divorcing couple has many decisions to make. These include decisions about property division, support, and if there are children, how to parent in separate households. In our state, however, there is not a great deal of guidance as to how the law would treat these issues, other than to be “fair and equitable”. And of course what a judge would do in a given case may not be the best outcome for the parties anyway. The only ones who can truly decide what the best outcome would be given their unique circumstances is the couple themselves.
Some couples may be comfortable making these kinds of decisions without outside help – we call that “kitchen table negotiations”. Some couples may want just a small amount of help – a little advice from attorneys in the background and someone to facilitate the conversation – Mediation can be a good option for those couples.
But for a couple that wants to make sure they have sufficient support and advice (legal, financial, and relational) to feel confident that they have made the best decisions they can, using a Professional Collaborative Team may be the best approach. With a Collaborative Team, the Lawyers are there to help advice as to the important legal issues to be considered, a Financial Specialist helps the couple analyze the costs and benefits of various financial solution options (Would it be best to sell or keep the family home? What is the best way to divide retirement accounts?), and a Divorce Coach can assist the couple with dealing effectively with each other during this stressful period, as well as develop strategies for dealing with conflict down the road (especially as co-parents).
In Collaboration, the couple will be guided through a decision making process that involves gathering any relevant information, determining goals to be accomplished, developing options, analyzing the options, and creating a scenario that best fits the goals outlined by each spouse. If it sounds like this might be a helpful process for you, give us a call so we can discuss it further.