I have both personal and professional reasons to believe in a Collaborative Divorce. As the child of divorced parents in the late 1970’s, I experienced the negative aspects of a traditional divorce personally. I was six when my parents divorced, and I remember hearing them argue, hearing disparaging comments regarding the other, and feeling like I had to choose a side. What I wish my parents had known was that a child needs a healthy relationship and view of both parents to have healthy self-esteem themselves.
The Collaborative Divorce Process is Sensitive to Difficult Situations
In one of my collaborative cases, the mother had mental health issues and they had a teenage daughter. Because we were in the collaborative process, we were able to get the mother to agree on something different for child possession and access. The visitation would only be determined by what the mother and the child could come up with. Financially, the father contributed more, which took the pressure off of the family overall.
In a litigated circumstance, that situation would look very different. In the trial, the judge would have just decided on the finances. Likely, the judge wouldn’t have been as generous as dad ended up being with mom because he recognized her limitations. The court would have also ordered the standard or expanded possession order because there’s a presumption that that’s in the best interest of the child. In this particular case, it wasn’t.
The Collaborative Process is Respectful
Having been a criminal prosecutor for the first 8 years of my career, I have seen individuals show more respect and integrity in a murder case than in a family court. The process can be ugly, but that doesn’t mean we have to make it uglier.
If I’m representing the petitioner and I think that the case could be collaborative, I’ll encourage my client to allow me to write a letter to the other party. I know that the first opportunity to talk to the other side is going to be meaningful. In the collaborative letter, we encourage the other person to either think about contacting me or to contact another collaborative attorney to see if we can’t work it out outside of court. When I write a collaborative letter, I end up having a 50-50 chance of the case going collaborative.
The collaborative process itself enables a more respectful divorce because it allows the divorcing couple to decide what is best for them. In 21 years of lawyering, I have learned that there is a better way to go through the court process than the traditional contentious and expensive litigation route.
The Collaborative Process is Flexible
I have a case right now that I call a “cooperative case” because the father does not have a collaborative attorney. Throughout the process, we’ve had three-way phone calls with me, mom, who is my client, and dad, who does not have a lawyer. And we have done it collaboratively because we have a financial neutral and a mental health neutral.
Overall, the collaborative process allowed this couple to more easily bite off one piece of the apple at a time to prevent feeling overwhelmed throughout the process, resulting in a more satisfying solution for both parties.
Collaborative Divorce Can Result in Peaceful Solutions
Over the past two decades, I have seen couples work together in a collaborative divorce to create solutions, rather than assigning blame. Collaborative Divorce allows for more satisfactory results because, in the end, the couples make decisions to best protect their children, their privacy, and their financial resources.
A Collaborative Divorce is designed to balance the power between divorcing spouses and create open communication for safe settlement terms that work for everyone. With a Collaborative Divorce team, I have seen hundreds of couples create customized solutions that best fit their goals for a successful future.
If you have questions about Collaborative Divorce, or you are ready to begin the collaborative process, please contact Julia Bancroft PC, Family Law.