Divorce Options for Couples Seeking Alternatives to Adversarial Litigation
As a marriage and family therapist, I am passionate about my work with couples to restore health and connection in marriages. However, I also know that there are some couples I see who, for a myriad of reasons, will not choose to stay together. Sometimes this is a mutual decision within a couple, but often it is not. Regardless of how the couples arrives at a divorce, it is important for couples to know there are many options for how they go about getting a divorce. Unfortunately, the assumption most have is that the “best” or even only way is for each spouse to hire an adversarial attorney and prepare to go fight in court. In Texas and most other areas, though, legal options are available that avoid the litigation process that is so often toxic, stressful, and even traumatic for so many families. I offer consultations for individuals and couples who are interested in Collaborative Divorce- a cost-efficient, private, and non-adversarial divorce process option that meets the needs of many changing families.
How does a collaborative divorce work?
1- Each party hires an attorney who is trained in collaborative divorce. The parties also likely hire two neutral professionals- a financial neutral who will facilitate the process of gathering information about the elements of the couple’s estate, and a mental health professional who will facilitate meetings and work with the couple to develop their post-divorce parenting plan. While it could sound expensive to hire four professionals, the process is managed by the team to minimize cost by avoiding much of the duplicated work and inefficiency that occurs in traditional litigation.
2- Once the Collaborative Divorce process has begun, the team works together with the clients to gather needed information, generate viable options for clients to consider, and reach a resolution on how the clients will parent their children post-divorce and how their estate will be divided.
3- The collaborative team guides the clients in implementation of their agreements, to the extent that team support is needed.
A collaborative divorce process is a legal option that is ideal for many divorcing couples, especially those who wish to have a healthy coparenting relationship post-divorce. A collaborative divorce is unique in that it is:
The professionals involved in the process must maintain confidentiality and meetings are held privately with only the professionals and clients present.
No judge, mediator, or professional will be making decisions for clients in a collaborative divorce. Clients are instead led by the collaborative team to reach agreements based on their needs, interests, and circumstances. Even divorcing couples with high conflict can successfully complete this process, keeping important decisions for their future and their children’s future out of the hands of strangers.
The process is not focused on the past or blame for problems in the marriage, but rather on reaching agreements to meet the clients’ post-divorce needs and goals. The team then helps the clients plan for successful implementation of agreements, which may include learning new ways of communicating in order to break past patterns.
Structured to allow for honest negotiations
Guidelines for the process ensure attorneys are collaboratively sharing information to facilitate trustworthiness and transparency, and neutral professionals are trained to facilitate direct and productive client communication. The collaborative divorce process avoids strategic maneuvering and legal games that so often foster mistrust and resentment in litigation.
Divorcing parents worry deeply about how to protect their children from being negatively impacted by their divorce. A collaborative team works with parents to determine parenting schedules and establish a coparenting relationship that fosters health and support for the transitions of separation and divorce.
Experienced collaborative professional teams can tailor the process to meet the clients’ needs and budget, and guide clients to understand how to keep the cost of the process as low as possible based on their circumstances. A significant source of cost-effectiveness is the inclusion of trained neutral professionals who facilitate much of the work related to financial decisions and parenting plans.
What is my training and background for collaborative divorce?
My training and experience as a marriage and family therapist equipped me with skills to manage difficult conversations, guide people to reach solutions to challenging issues, and facilitate improved skills for communication within meaningful relationships. I attended my first collaborative divorce training in 2011, and I have since invested time and energy gaining experience in collaborative divorce with the goal of helping people navigate what is often one of the most challenging times in their lives. I apply what I know about human relationships, conflict resolution, and child development to help families through the divorce process. I am an active member of the Collaborative Divorce San Antonio professional group (CDSA; www.collaborativedivorcesanant...), and have served as an officer and board member multiple years. I am also a member of Collaborative Divorce Texas (CDT; www.collaborativedivorcetexas....), and am recognized as a Credentialed Neutral Mental Health Professional. CDT credentialing is reflective of my commitment to continued training and experience in the collaborative law process.
Want to learn more about collaborative divorce as an option?
For more information, schedule a consultation with me by email at [email protected] or call 210-496-0100. Potential collaborative clients can attend a consultation meeting together or schedule individual meetings. The cost for a 50-minute consultation is $175 payable by cash, check or credit card.