Frequently Asked Questions
How is Collaborative Different from Mediation? In Mediation you and your spouse meet with a neutral mediator to discuss your case and you see your consulting counsel on an “as needed” basis as mediation progresses. Typically, your consulting lawyers are not with you during mediation. In collaboration, there is NO neutral mediator. Everything is resolved in a series of meetings with the two of you and your lawyers. Your lawyer is with you at the table. Agreements can be reached much faster as a result.
Do I give up my right to go to court? No, you are choosing to “opt out” of the court process when you choose the collaborative model. You may choose to end the collaboration at any time if it is not working for you and go to court if you feel that is best for you.
What is the Collaborative Team? Your “team” consists of your lawyers, your coaches and your neutral financial specialist and, your child specialist if needed.
What does a Divorce Coach do? Your coach is a specially trained mental health professional who helps you to communicate effectively with your spouse. Your coach helps you identify when you are “triggered” and how to self-mange so you can be more effective in meetings with your lawyers and your spouse. Your coach will give you specific communication skills and techniques to assist in your co-parenting with your spouse. You and your spouse will also have meetings together with your coaches to work on a co-parenting plan for your children.
What does the Financial Specialist do? Your financial specialist is neutral and works with you to see how much cash is coming in and where it is going (cash flow model). This is very useful when you need to know how much it will take to run two households instead of one. Your financial specialist will also help you itemize all of your assets and debts and show you different ways of dividing them (with input from your lawyers) for maximum benefit to you in the future.
How do you “represent” me? As your lawyer, I am non-adversarial in this process but I am still your advocate. I will listen to your needs and concerns and make sure you are heard. If you are having a hard time during a meeting, I will stop the meeting to allow you to “catch your breath” and have a chance to say what you need to say. I will counsel and advise you all along the way and will guide you in your decision-making process.
How much will this all cost? The collaborative process can be expensive as each team member charges their own hourly rate. The coaches and financial specialist typically charge less than the lawyers. It is still less time consuming and less expensive than going to court. In collaboration, it is not the cost so much as the value that is important. You have your team to support you and your family. Your children will benefit by the skills you learn in this process and they will learn them from you. You will have an opportunity to have a better relationship with your spouse as co-parents that will serve you long after this process is over. You will have participated in a process that values you as an individual and where you have the opportunity to truly be heard.