Written by Cynthia A. Batchelder.
Choosing Collaborative Practice is the best way to avoid the costly battle that can occur in Court litigation, and the destructive emotional cost which can come with it. Collaborative Divorce can still be done in situations where the conflict is heightened, communication has broken down, and feelings or anger or pain are running high. These are often the hallmarks of why cases end up in contested litigation. Litigation adds fuel to the conflict, increasing the anger and pain being experienced by the spouses, which trickles down to the children. Alternatively, Collaborative Practice directly addresses the emotional aspects of divorce by providing each spouse with a Collaboratively trained attorney, who is their advocate and legal adviser, but also with either one or two mental health professional(s) who serves as a divorce coach. The divorce coach works with the parties on how to better communicate during the process, how to stay child-focused, and to look at the future rather than a painful past. A financial neutral can be used to take a non-adversarial look at the family’s budget, income, assets, and debts to assist them in making future-focused decisions which are fair and equitable. Rather than focusing on getting as much as possible from the other spouse, the focus is on securing the financial future of all participants, which benefits the children in that more money is saved for their education, health care, housing, and future needs rather than depleting savings on litigation costs. Mediation works well for low-conflict matters where the spouses can still communicate with one another, and are both able to advocate for themselves when discussing settlement terms; however, there are many situations in which mediation cannot meet the needs of both spouses. This may be that one spouse is in the dark regarding the finances, or a spouse does not feel that he or she can speak up for him or herself. Collaborative Practice evens out the playing field between the spouses because both parties are supported by professionals who ensure that both spouses’ voices are included and heard during the process. The attorney members of the Collaborative Professionals of Baltimore would be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding whether Collaborative Practice is right for you. Please reach out to us and we would be happy to discuss it with you.