Going through a divorce is never easy, but ending a relationship with dignity and grace, while working together to raise happy, healthy children is possible through a cost-effective alternative approach called collaborative law. Although this method has been around since the 1990's, to many it still remains a new and foreign concept. Aside from the overall benefits, there are numerous ways in which collaborative law could forestall not only the initial fights in family law cases, but also prevent later returns to court to rehash and retry the action.
One of the most beneficial aspects of collaborative law is the use of outside experts, who are jointly chosen and retained by the parties. Generally, a mental health expert is employed to assist in minimizing the emotional impact which often occurs when spouses divorce. The mental health expert is especially important when there are children involved, as he or she is often able to help the parties come to a parenting agreement jointly, bearing in mind the best interests of the children and the particular family dynamics. A financial expert is also agreed upon and retained by the parties jointly, and is able to assist them in financial planning and in the determination of the best way to divide the parties’ assets and liabilities, so that tax consequences are minimized and both parties emerge from the divorce with an equitable piece of the pie. The mental health and financial experts are part of the collaborative “team,” along with both parties and their individual attorneys, and all members of the team meet together on a regular basis in an effort to reach the most agreeable settlement possible.
While the collaborative process may not be appropriate in every dissolution of marriage case, it is often very beneficial to many, especially when there are children involved. The focus on open communication, transparency, and cooperation assists the parties in navigating the issues associated with a divorce, and allows them to work toward a more amicable and respectful relationship in the future.