Collaborative law takes a mediation model and incorporates other professionals in order to have a less adversarial, interest-based and therapeutic approach to the divorce process, instead of focusing on positions that may drive people farther apart. A collaborative divorce avoids traditional court proceedings, which saves families the time, expense and stress of litigation.
Find a divorce lawyer who is collaboratively trained. With an office in Richmond, Virginia, Jonathan Murdoch-Kitt has experience and training in the collaborative process. Often, one lawyer is helpful in finding another collaborative lawyer that will be compatible for your family to build your collaborative team. Once the two lawyers have been retained, they will generally make suggestions regarding mental health professionals called coaches, who will help you communicate through some of the tougher issues in a divorce. The decision about which coaches you hire and whether you want one coach or two is entirely up to you. Additionally, most collaborative teams include a financial neutral that will help sort through and simplify the financial aspect of the divorce.
The process is designed to facilitate a resolution that feels fair to both parties as quickly and efficiently as possible. Much of the hard work in the collaborative process is accomplished in face to face meetings with the parties, their attorneys, and the financial neutral. Other meetings may just include the parties and their coaches. This portion of the process is free form, and will take the shape that best suits the clients and their individual needs and circumstances. Ultimately, the number of meetings depends on the desires of the parties and the complexity of the case.
Though the collaborative law approach incorporates many professionals, it is usually cheaper than full-scale litigation. Every case is unique however, and some processes are longer and more involved than others. The more you can resolve, the faster and more economical your divorce will be.
Communication coaches are mental health professionals hired to be part of the collaborative team. In collaborative cases, parties often hire a coach, or each party may have a coach, to help them process the more difficult emotional aspects of their divorce. Coaches are particularly helpful in negotiating impasses in the settlement process. Coaches may help the parents with their children, or may just focus on the divorcing parties’ issues.
Another integral part of the team is a financial neutral. In traditional divorce litigation, lawyers do not share their client’s financial information, except when expressly asked in discovery. The information can be used as a bargaining chip. The result is that the financial picture for both parties may be drastically skewed. When financial information is distorted, it does not help the parties come to an agreement and solve their differences and often drives them farther apart. With a financial neutral both parties provide all requested information to a CPA or CFPA, who creates a realistic picture of the finances. The neutral can also run different budgets and create different reports with, for example, different spousal support proposals. The neutral helps the parties problem solve together and be realistic about a solution that is best for all of the parties involved.
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DISCLAIMER: Every case is unique. Facts are specific to the people involved. These FAQ present some general questions and answers that should not be interpreted as “legal advice.” Before making decisions that affect your legal rights, you should contact Jonathan Murdoch-Kitt at 804-321-5100 for a legal consultation.