Tuesday, April 20, 2010 1:45:00 AM
April 20, 2010 :: Art of Well Being

Divorce with Dignity - Collaborative Divorce


“ Promotes Peace, Respect, Cooperation
Strives for Win – Win Results ”


Traditional divorce practice involves filing a lawsuit and encouraging couples to take opposite sides or positions and “fight” their way to a solution. Frequently a judge makes multiple rulings and the process becomes time consuming, expensive and stressful.


            Collaborative divorce is a new approach developed as an alternative.  It enables couples to hire individual attorneys as “settlement experts” to assist them to make reasoned, respectful decisions that consider and try to meet the needs of the entire family utilizing interest based negotiation.


            Research shows that divorce is one of life’s most stressful events.  It ranks close to the death of a child or close family member.  Stress, which may be caused by relocation, financial disruption or emotional consequences, adversely impacts the physical and emotional health of people involved.


            Children are often victims of the divorce process.  They are inevitably affected by the stress their parents experience.  Parents sometimes use their children in an effort to hurt or gain an advantage over the other.  They may suffer long lasting psychological effects, have problems with grades or behavior, or regress in their maturity level.  Angry parents often do not recognize how their attitudes and conduct are affecting their children.


            Collaborative divorce encourages cooperation and consideration of the true needs and interests of all members of the family.  The goal of Collaborative Divorce is to provide a way to separate, divorce and take care of related issues that reduces stress and time, is cost effective and gets the best results for the family as a whole.


            Collaborative divorce involves a few core principles:


            1.         No court.

            2.         Interest based negotiation, instead of position based.

            3.         Privacy and confidentiality.

            4.         Control (the parties make decisions not a judge).

            5.         Open, transparent communication and the exchange of information in

                        good faith.

            6.         Respectful communication.

            7.         Protection of children.


            When entering the collaborative divorce process, the husband and wife and their respective attorneys sign an agreement to resolve the case out of court.  If the process should fail, the attorneys and any other professional advisors or consultants involved in the collaborative process will not be required to appear in court in an adversarial matter.  The parties commit to make a true effort to make their own decisions through a series of 4-way meetings and resolve all issues with the assistance of their attorneys and other consultants.

            When expert input is needed, the parties retain the services of a neutral advisor to evaluate the situation and offer recommendations about possible solutions.  We seek such consultations when needed from financial advisors, business and property appraisers, and child development and custody experts to name a few.  When retained the consultant becomes a member of the team to assist in reaching an acceptable resolution for all.  In adversarial cases parties hire opposing experts and the cost and controversy is increased.


            The collaborative method provides that personal information is not placed in public files or discussed in publicly in open court.  Personal privacy is maintained within the collaborative team.  The parties can set their own time schedule and take time to fully explore options that may work best under their individual circumstances.  The parties make their own final decisions.  No one is ordered to accept a result mandated by a judge.


            All necessary information is freely and cooperatively exchanged.  In contrast, in court the exchange of information is often an expensive and time consuming process.


            All participants listen respectfully to the point of view of the others and respond in a respectful manner.  Communication and understanding are promoted.  A genuine effort is made to encourage resolutions that enable families to maintain civil relationships.  This is especially important when children are involved and both parents will continue to perform parenting responsibilities.


            Protection of the children is a priority in collaborative cases.  An effort is made to protect the children from the emotional stress, anger and too frequent financial deprivation associated with traditional, oppositional divorce.  Arrangements need to be made to protect their interests as early as possible.  Both parents are encouraged to participate in relevant decision making and provide for the security of the children.


            When it is necessary for a couple to separate or divorce the goal of collaborative professionals is to help the family reach a mutually agreeable divorce settlement.  Every effort is made to make the process a healing experience that maintains respectful relationships and protects the interests of all involved.


For more information see:  www.mcahoolaw.com; www.triadcollaborative.com; www.collaborativepractice.com


Marilyn Cahoon, Attorney

Collaborative Divorce and Mediation

100 South Elm Street, Suite 300

Greensboro, N.C. 27401

Telephone:  336-275-2888


Call to schedule time to view collaborative law DVD free of charge or for free copy of Collaborative brochure.