We often hear that a healthy mindset can make all the difference in your mental and physical well-being. When you think about divorce, separating assets/debts, custody disputes, child support, spousal support and alimony, these words do not conjure up feelings of bliss.
Change is scary, contentious litigation is emotionally costly and can be financially costly, as well. Not knowing how a judge will rule can create anxiety. One of the solutions to an improved mindset is maintaining some control over how and when the house will be sold, where and with whom the children will spend their time, how the retirement accounts and credit cards will be divided, and how two people will live separately and be able to pay the bills. The Collaborative Law Process provides the parties with the ability to be the decision-makers of their present and future.
Collaborative law is a voluntary process parties enter into which allows parties to settle their disputes, whether it is divorce, custody, child support, spousal support or alimony, without court intervention.
The collaborative process is unique in that it is interdisciplinary. Each party must be represented by a collaboratively-trained attorney. The parties may also elect to jointly employ a mental health professional who is also collaboratively-trained, to serve as a “coach”. The coach can assist the parties in communicating effectively during the process and/or in formulating a parenting plan if minor children are involved. The parties can also elect to jointly retain a financial professional, such as a CPA or financial advisor, who is collaboratively trained to assist them in developing a budget or to provide them with tax advice regarding the transfer or liquidation of assets. Financial professionals can be of great assistance if one party is self-employed or the marital estate includes a business.
In the collaborative process, the parties’ goal is to reach a mutually acceptable settlement addressing their assets/debts, children, spousal maintenance and/or child support, without causing irreparable harm to the family. The negotiations employ a shared-solutions approach and considers the well-being of the entire family, including minor children, if applicable. The parties are able to maintain control over the end result, as opposed to a decision being dictated by a stranger who has never interacted with the family and cannot possibly truly understand their needs.
It is a misnomer that the collaborative process is easy. Each party must commit to being honest and respectful, and information gathering to value assets can be tedious. Emotions are still present as the parties mourn the loss of a marriage and/or intact family. Negotiating the terms of a parenting plan can still be difficult. Nonetheless, the collaborative process provides a framework for the parties to navigate what could otherwise sour their co-parenting relationship and/or leave them in financial ruin.
If you need legal assistance, please contact Daley Zucker Meilton & Miner, LLC at (717) 724-9821.