An Alternative to a Nasty Divorce…
Colleen Holbrook, LICSW, CMHS
A relatively new way to go through divorce has come to Washington. Nothing can take away the pain and difficulty of going through a divorce, but the collaborative way keeps you out of court and puts the control in your hands. Between you and your spouse decisions are made about your lives post divorce. If you have children together its vital that you and your spouse handle your divorce with the least amount of damage to everyone, especially for your kid’s sake.
I became involved with collaborative law after witnessing the pain and confusion of children whose parents had been through a rough divorce. Without realizing it, parents were putting their kids in the middle of the conflict they had with their ex-spouse. They didn’t’t realize the ways in which they were continuing to hurt their kids by their words and actions out of their pain.
Collaborative law asks that you bring your best self forward in a challenging time for the good of all involved. There are team members to help support you in this process and the divorce often cost less than a litigated one involving the courts. The team members include two collaboratively trained attorneys and a divorce coach. If you have children, there is a child specialist to help you work out the future co-parenting issues and help construct a parenting plan. There is also a financial specialist available to you who can put order and fairness into dividing the assets. If vocational training is needed for one spouse to support themselves in the future, you can also hire a vocational specialist.
The divorce coach and child specialist are often mental health professionals who have a distinct and specific job to do that is not therapy. The coach helps couples work through the emotional conflicts that block making progress on the legal front. The child specialist will meet with you as parents and get to know your kids a bit. They will provide education and support to help you design the best possible parenting plan. It’s important that the parenting plans are brought to the attorneys before making any hard and fast rules about them. Each state has their own laws that the attorneys know best.
With Collaborative Law you are in the best hands to guide and support you through what can be one of the most difficult and painful transitions you will ever make. Having a team to deal with specifics cuts down on costs because attorneys are not trained to cope with the emotional or financial problems that prevent making progress on the divorce. The longer the divorce drags out and the more visits with the attorneys the more your divorce with cost. Hiring the allied professionals who are trained to help in specific ways reduces your overall cost because they do not charge as much as attorneys do. It can be a win-win situation keeping in mind that you are in the driver’s seat. You set the pace and have control of the outcome. Come, put your best self forward and reduce the damage.
Parenting Plan (This is an article that was in the Snohomish County Bar Review April 2010)