I recently returned from a conference of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, where approximately 400 attorneys, psychologists, therapists, accountants, and financial planners from all around the world gathered to learn how to help families through collaborative divorce (a process where clients agree to settle their disputes privately and attorneys are contractually barred from bringing contested issues in front of a judge to decide).
During the conference, I was reminded that colleagues in Israel refer to collaborative practice in Hebrew as “L’hitgaresh B’Shalom,” which literally translates as “To Divorce In Peace” or “The Peaceful Divorce.”
This is not to say that collaborative divorce is an easy process. Another Tampa attorney refers to collaborative divorce as “the tough, but sensible, way to resolve family disputes,” and that’s an apt description. After all, divorce – no matter how it is resolved – is a difficult and emotional process.
But collaborative practice is a more peaceful manner to deal with divorce in that meetings and discussions take place in the private offices of the professionals rather than in the public setting of the courthouse. This means that, unlike courtroom divorces, nothing is “on the record” until the spouses come to an agreement. There are no court reporters or costly depositions, as opposed to courtroom battles where accusations and emotional outbursts are transcribed and can never be “unsaid.”
Collaborative divorce also tends to result in a more peaceful and lasting outcome, as a neutral facilitator (generally, a trained mental health professional) is retained and will teach clients to communicate and co-parent more effectively. Further, as the clients (and their attorneys) commit from the beginning to not allow a judge to resolve their disputes, they learn problem-solving skills which stay with them even after the divorce is over. In traditional courtroom divorce, where parties are generally of the mindset that they simply cannot work with the other party, they permit a judge to make very personal decisions about their lives, and they do not learn how to address conflicts that inevitably arise after the divorce is finalized.
Moreover, former spouses who utilized the collaborative process tend to be financially better off following the divorce. This helps to keep the peace. They are better off because a neutral financial professional (an accountant or financial planner) is retained to show the spouses the most cost-effective manner to split assets and debts and invest their resources. The financial planners can develop options that address future changes in circumstances (such as fluctuations in income or market conditions, or anticipated additional expenses of extra-curricular activities as children get older) that the law does not permit judges to address.
Collaborative divorces also tend to be less costly than courtroom battles because the facilitator helps the parties cut through the emotional clutter that blocks resolution. I have seen spouses going through old-style divorce spend thousands of dollars to litigate over lawn tools that cost, at most, $100. Obviously, they were not just fighting over the lawn tools, but the court system has no constructive mechanism for dealing with the emotional attachment or underpinnings at the root of that fight.
So, though the collaborative divorce process may not be peaceful at all times, it gives your family the best chance of a long-lasting, peaceful outcome.
If you want to find out more about how a Tampa Bay collaborative divorce can help your family resolve disputes more peacefully, and you wish to schedule a consultation with a Florida collaborative divorce lawyer, call The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our contact form.
Adam B. Cordover currently serves as vice president of the Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay and Research Co-Chair of the Florida Collaborative Family Law Council. Adam is also one of 24 participants selected worldwide to participate in the Inaugural Leadership Academy of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.