A Team Approach
In a collaborative divorce, the soon-to-be-former spouses work together, cooperatively, in conjunction with their divorce attorney, and an integrated team process, to resolve their divorce issues and benefit themselves and their families.
This roundtable or team approach also may include input from business appraisers, financial specialists, child specialists, or other specialists. These experts are available on an as-needed basis, rather than an ongoing retainer. In addition, each party typically enlists the help of a Divorce Coach, who is trained to deal with mental health issues related to divorce.
Advantages of Collaborative Divorce
In my experience as a divorce attorney working in Ventura County, there are numerous advantages to a collaborative divorce, including:
(1) The parties and their Collaborative Team Lawyers “collaborate”; they work as a team, without any interference from a judge. They have open and transparent communications. This “team” approach is the heart of collaborative divorce.
(2) Because the goal is to work together, as a team, there is no foot-dragging. The parties generally make required financial disclosures in a timely manner and produce relevant documents upon request, often to the neutral financial specialist who prepares a Financial Report. This neutral financial specialist serves as a resource to husband and wife, helps to gather, organize and make sense of financial data. Can offer projections and help picture how it will look after the divorce is final.
(3) The Divorce Coach helps each client identify what goals each wishes to achieve, support the client emotionally and mentally, help frame the big picture, helping the client to have a voice in the process and avoid self-sabotaging behaviors. Having two coaches helps create a balance of power between the parties.
(4) Significantly, the team philosophy encourages both parties to approach parenting issues from a positive, loving, and caring position.
The legal professionals participate in the collaborative process and work to negotiate a settlement from the very first meeting. If the parties sign a true Collaborative Commitment Agreement, the lawyers are incentivized to find solutions since they will be disqualified if the case doesn’t settle.
What Happens in a Collaborative Divorce Meeting?
A collaborative divorce meeting is meant to be a positive work session, with input from all. A round table, along with light snacks and beverages, will sometimes help to facilitate this.
A typical collaborative divorce meeting will last approximately two hours. In most cases, here is what you can expect:
(1) At the first meeting, your Collaborative legal professional will educate you about the process choices to make sure everyone understands how it works.
(2) After the first meeting with your Collaborative legal professional, a Collaborative Commitment Agreement signing meeting is generally set for all team members, including the Collaborative Team Lawyers and Divorce Coaches. A member of the team will be designated to take notes or minutes of the meeting to record any agreements or discussions.
(3) The teams will develop a list of topics to cover.
(4) You and your spouse will be encouraged to lead the discussion and air your concerns.
(5) As negotiations progress, the parties will be encouraged to stick to the list of agreed-upon topics, to look forward toward a resolution, and not to rehash the past.
Attorney Lisa R. Zonder, a Collaborative Divorce Expert
If you are interested in learning more about collaborative divorce from an experienced divorce attorney conveniently located in Ventura County, call Zonder Family Law to schedule your initial Strategy Session.
I will meet with you personally to discuss your situation and your legal options. Serving as a Collaborative Divorce lawyer is a big part of my work as a Westlake Village and Ventura County divorce lawyer. My services as a Collaborative Divorce attorney are billed on an hourly basis.
Download our shareable tip sheet:
*Consultation granted based on appropriate qualification determined by Lead Counsel