Sometimes couples do not wish to litigate, but feel they need an attorney to negotiate directly on their behalf. These couples may be more comfortable engaging in a non-adversarial Collaborative Divorce. The goal of Collaborative Divorce is to achieve a thoughtful and fair agreement in a timely, cost effective manner. In Collaborative Divorce, the clients select a team of professionals that may include two specially trained collaborative attorneys, one or two divorce coaches, and depending on the specifics of the case, a neutral child specialist and/or a neutral financial specialist.
What Parties Can Be Involved In A Collaborative Divorce?
The Divorce Coach is critical to the collaborative process serving to keep each party focused on their big picture goals and therefore, less reactive to the moment. Left unchecked, negative emotion too often hijacks and derails the process, and the divorce devolves into nasty accusations and recriminations which in turn result in years of costly litigation that hurts adults and children alike. When couples are less reactive, they can think more clearly and are less likely to get derailed by the negative emotions that inevitably get triggered by past and present hurts, disappointments and fears.
A Financial Neutral is often part of the team. They are generally accountants who are responsible to gather the necessary financial information and help the parties understand the family’s financial picture. Since they are hired by the couple and do not serve either party, they can be enormously helpful at various stages of the process. For example, without bias, they can request and gather all financial information they deem necessary as well as any additional information each attorney may need. In addition, they can help each party to fully understand the family’s financial picture. At a later stage in the process, they might calculate and explain the tax implications of each proposed settlement or offer models to consider the short and long term financial trajectory of one settlement as compared to another.
When couples engage in a collaborative divorce, they sometimes find it helpful to engage a Child Specialist (CS) who meets directly with the children and brings their voices into the collaborative process. The role of the CS is to assess how the children are processing their parent’s divorce and better understand the children’s unique needs, desires and concerns in light of the divorce. Input from the CS to the parents invariably expands the scope of the parenting discussion and results in a richer, more comprehensive parenting plan.
Dr. Schrag can help you put together a collaborative team of attorneys and Financial Neutral. He himself can serve as a Collaborative Divorce Coach or neutral Child Specialist or can refer you to other capable professionals to serve those functions. In the process he can provide parents with the knowledge and tools they need to help buffer their children against the negative effects of divorce.
Collaborative Divorce and Divorce Mediation are alternative dispute resolution methods that obviate the need to go to court. If you would like to discuss which option would be best for you, please feel free to call for a consultation at 914-232-8000.