First of all, financial information about the extent of the assets and liabilities of the family and the income and other sources of cash flow for the family will be exchanged. That information will be shared through the process. In fact, it’ll be shared transparently and completely by the parties and the attorneys and the financial neutral will help the parties to do that sharing of information. In addition, the coach will help the parties to share what their goals are, what their personal interests are in the process, what is most important to them, and what the priorities are for them at the other end of the divorce process.
For example, it may be very important to one party to remain in the marital residence. Maybe the party has a business that they operate out of the residence or they feel the children benefit from staying in the residence. Another party may be more concerned with their retirement position and retaining more of the retirement assets. These are their interests and the information about the parties’ goals and interests will be brought forth in the collaborative process.
The whole goal of the process is to identify the client’s primary interests, to identify all of the relevant financial information, and then to help the parties generate actions to get to yes for a complete divorce resolution.
What are the benefits of using the collaborative process? Well, one benefit of the collaborative process is control. Both parties have more control over their outcomes than they would if they let the court make their family decisions. Now, to be sure the collaborative process does involve give and take and there will be compromises made, but the collaborative process permits parties to take a hard look at the financial facts of their marriage and other relevant information and to try to meet their priorities. That’s what it offers. So that is one benefit of the process.
Another benefit of the collaborative process is it allows the clients to be creative. It’s a very structured process and it’s private. The information within the process is privileged and cannot be disclosed in a court of law unless the parties agree otherwise. So this creates a very comfortable environment for the parties to think creatively and try on various possible solutions and settlement terms before arriving at the options that are best for them. The collaborative process is a very educated process. It allows the parties to receive lots of information about the legal aspects and the financial aspects of their termination of marriage. So the process is very enlightened, if you will. And for parties who want to understand the information that’s relevant to their decisions, it’s a great process.
It’s private, for those who value their privacy. And it’s confidential. The information is privileged therefore their privacy is protected. And it’s a process that calls for civility. So if parties don’t enjoy conflict and strife, it’s a very controlled process, it’s a very reasoned process. It also helps preserve positive family relations after the termination of marriage. It’s good for children because the collaborative divorce process values the best interest of the children. We consider the best interest of the children to be a priority of the process. We find that the parties really want that and that they really care about that and pretty universally people want to put their children’s interests very high and that’s how the collaborative process operates.
It keeps the whole matter out of court. Sometimes the litigation process is anxiety producing and requires much financial commitment, much loss of work time. The collaborative meetings can be scheduled at times that are convenient to the parties and the parties can have some control over how long the process takes. So basically it comes down to the fact that the process has lots of attributes that the divorce litigation process does not.