Anger, viciousness, selfishness, and expensive are more likely to describe what is usually an ugly process leaving families in a wake of financial hardship, emotional distress, and decades of anger. But with almost 50 percent of marriages today ending in divorce, one group of legal, financial, and counseling professionals has said “enough is enough.”
Based in Miami, the Collaborative Family Law Institute (www.collaborativefamlaw.com) is a national leader in bringing civility, a focus on mutual outcomes, and a concern for children to divorce proceedings.
Collaborative divorce is a voluntary process in which couples, with the assistance of collaboratively-trained professionals, work toward reaching a settlement on fair and equitable terms without the financial and emotional cost that often accompanies litigation. Through the Collaborative Process, the parties choose to resolve the issues in their dissolution in a mutually beneficial way, outside of the court system. In a Collaborative Divorce, the parties are empowered to make their own decisions and customize the terms of an agreement based upon their particular needs and interests.
“While no one plans for a divorce when they tie the knot, unfortunately, it is a reality,” said Allison Hockman, President of the Collaborative Family Law Institute. “As professionals in this arena, we have seen too many families financially and emotionally ruined. Children have been permanently scarred and divorced parents continue to battle well after their marriages have ended.”
The collaborative process is a distinct departure from the more traditional strategies that include:
1.Do It Yourself with the local clerk of the courts
2.Litigation which is built on protecting the interests of one spouse while ignoring the other’s needs
3.Mediation, a divorce process as a step in litigated, collaborative or do-it-yourself divorce
“Families turning to the collaborative process acknowledge the need for divorce,” added Hockman. “But they’re taking a more mature and responsible approach, one that strives to reach a settlement on fair and equitable terms. The goal is to eliminate most of the financial and emotional costs associated with other divorce strategies that encourage parties to fight– over money, the house, the kids and just about anything else, no matter how small.”
The advantages of a collaborative divorce include:
>Control of outcomes
>Better use of resources (money, time, energy)
The centerpiece of this innovative and affordable process are the collaboratively-trained professionals who include each party’s collaborative attorneys along with unbiased financial and counseling professionals. They are committed to give families the opportunity to weather the stresses in divorce proceedings by finding a better way to divorce.
In addition, the voluntary collaborative process has been for parents who hope to protect their children from the collateral damage that may result from a divorce or paternity suit. These parents are also aware that divorce or separation can be risk factors associated with compromised child development. They acknowledge that they don’t want to be ravaged by a process based on a winner-take-all mentality. These families want to avoid paying huge attorney’s fees that devastate a family’s finances and emotionally damage the parents and children.
“Because mental health professionals are part of the collaborative team, participants are urged to craft a post-divorce parenting plan that prioritizes the children’s best interest,” said Dr. Lana Stern. “By putting the anger aside and agreeing not to use the child as a bargaining chip, these parents agree on a custody plan and pledge to collaborate and make all decisions for the benefit of the child.”
The organization’s goal is to break the cycle of conflict that has become associated with divorce.
“The family-friendly process is more peaceful and private,” added Stern. “It allows parents to partner in the upbringing of their child. The bottom line is that they treat each other with respect while acknowledging that they shouldn’t be married.”