Getting a divorce is never easy, IMAGINE a long term marriage. A collaborative expert can help you.
All divorces are not created equal. Some, like Gwyneth Paltrow’s "conscious uncoupling" are fairly civilized. Others are more like The War of the Roses. If you are in a long term marriage (and, these days, anything over 10 years is considered "long term") is there a way to get divorced that won’t leave you financially devastated, and your children scarred for life?
While no divorce is ever easy, there are ways to get through your divorce while causing less damage than others. One of the best ways to get divorced, if you have been married for a long time is collaborative divorce.
What is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative divorce is a way to resolve your divorce issues outside of court. Both you and your spouse hire lawyers who are trained in the collaborative process, as well as a neutral divorce financial planner and a divorce coach. Each divorce professional works within his/her area of expertise to help you settle your case in a way that (hopefully) meets everyone’s needs.
Collaborative divorce also provides an incentive for everyone to work together to resolve issues amicably. If, for any reason, you or your spouse pulls out of the process or decides to fight, all of the divorce professionals must withdraw from the case, and you have to start all over. Everyone loses.
Why is Collaborative Divorce Better for Long Term Marriages?
When you have been married for a long time, you usually have much more to lose than if you have only been together for a couple of years. You also have more issues to resolve and more likely to have children together. You may also own a home, and maybe have built a business together. Most likely have retirement accounts, have a lot of personal property and a lot of history together.
The more you and your spouse have together, the more you have to fight about. The longer you have been together, the more emotionally difficult your divorce is likely to be. The more complicated your situation, the more help you can use when navigating the rough and muddy waters of divorce.
But What if You and Your Spouse Don’t Get Along?
Collaborative divorce is not just for those rare couples who get along well but have just decided they can’t be married to each other anymore. People going through the collaborative process argue—they fight and disagree. Many have had affairs, or done things they are not proud of. The difference is, in spite of their differences, and in spite of their pain—they agree on a few key things.
First, they agree that they want to get through their divorce and move on with their lives. They don’t want to stay mired in conflict for years. They also agree that they will come clean with financial information, rather than spending a fortune on lawyers and accountants to discover their real assets and liabilities. They agree to wanting to keep their dirty laundry out of the court system and to be in control of their own divorce process—and most of all, they want to work together to really do what is best for their kids.
How Do You Get a Collaborative Divorce?
To get a collaborative divorce, you need to find professionals who are trained in the collaborative process. Hiring a trial lawyer who says she can "be collaborative" is NOT the same! Just like you wouldn’t go to your family doctor if you needed brain surgery, you shouldn’t go to a trial lawyer and ask for a collaborative divorce! You need someone with the skills and training it takes to get you through the collaborative process properly.
A great place to start looking for collaborative professionals is with your local collaborative professionals organization, or the International Association of Collaborative Professionals. Those organizations can guide you to find the professionals you need to get a real collaborative divorce.
If you do that, will your divorce be a breeze? No. Divorce never is. But, will a collaborative divorce help you end your long term marriage with more dignity, more control, and less expense, than a highly contested court battle? Absolutely.
To get a handy, one page chart that illustrates the pros and cons of collaborative divorce versus mediation, litigation and negotiation, go to http://karencovy.com/process-infographic.