We see it in the news and magazines all of the time. Publicly available divorce documents accuse a celebrity of secretly supporting a child born out of wedlock. Sports figures’ assets and judgment become public spectacles. Politicians and their spouses lob accusations at each other for all to see. Businessmen’s private details and dirty laundry end up as front page stories.
Fortunately, your divorce does not need to be in the public eye.
More and more high profile families are choosing to handle their separations privately and respectfully via the collaborative divorce process.
Collaborative divorce starts with a simple pledge: the spouses will not use their attorneys to fight each other in court. Each spouse has an attorney who guides him and her along the process, and the attorneys are contractually barred from filing any contested court documents, setting any contested court hearings, and otherwise being involved in any litigation between the spouses.
Instead, the attorneys are solely focused on helping the spouses reach an out-of-court agreement in a series of private and confidential meetings.
The spouses are helped by a collaborative facilitator who, like a mediator, is a neutral figure. But, unlike most mediators, the facilitator usually has a counseling background and helps families work through the emotional fallout of divorce, keeps the focus on the future rather than on arguments of the past, ensures that the children’s best interests are being addressed, and teaches the spouses (and their attorneys) to communicate respectively and productively.
Further, families in the collaborative process are aided by a neutral financial professional. The financial professional fosters transparency between the spouses (think “trust, but verify”) so that they can make informed decisions on the division of assets and debts and support matters. He or she also develops financial options that are individually tailored to the family members’ needs and ensures that tax ramifications or financial planning concerns are addressed.
Adam B. Cordover is the author of the upcoming American Bar Association book on Building A Collaborative Practice. He is immediate past president of Next Generation Divorce, a 501(c)(3) organization covering Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota, and Manatee Counties and one of the nation’s largest interdisciplinary collaborative practice groups. Adam is on the Executive Board of the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals and a member of the Research Committee of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.