COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE UNITES RATHER THAN DIVIDES
–ALTERNATIVE APPROACH TO DIVORCE HELPS ALIGN PROFESSIONALS OF VARIOUS DISCIPLINES-
(HARTFORD, CT)- June 13, 2013- When many people think about the professionals managing divorce, they only envision attorneys. Presently though, some of the most amicable divorces are achieved through an approach known as collaborative divorce. It reduces stress for the individuals separating by surrounding them with a support system including attorneys, mental health and financial professionals.
“Traditional divorce is adversarial”, said Attorney Jule Crawford. “So often, this often leads to bitter court battles where each side wants to win no matter the cost.”
Attorney Crawford is a member of Connecticut Collaborative Divorce Group (CCDG). She says that collaborative divorce humanized her practice by taking the demon out of divorce. The collaborative approach sets up a method for the two divorcing people to start a dialogue, not about who did what wrong that killed the marriage, but to map out the changes that the divorce will necessitate.
Attorney Crawford’s collaborative group is multidisciplinary. Members are trained and experienced in finance, law or mental health. As a result, she can offer clients a team of neutrals professionally trained in their field to help them make good parenting and financial decisions, while she and the other lawyer can guide them through the legal process.
“I have been amazed over and over again that grown adults feel they lose all control over their own lives when they enter into a traditional divorce,” she said. “I think the collaborative process is all about giving people the tools and guidance they need to be active problem solvers to craft their agreement in a way that best suits themselves, each other, and their children.”
Dr. Abby Cole offers a mental health perspective. As a divorce coach, collaborative divorce has pretty much become a second career, eclipsing her psychotherapy practice. It allows Dr. Cole the pleasure of working more interactively with colleagues, and the satisfaction of offering what she considers to be preventative mental health interventions.
“Instead of spending years in psychotherapy cleaning up the detritus of messy divorces, I am able to educate and guide clients towards behaving in more decent and respectable ways,” she said. “They don’t have to spend years hating ex-spouses, but instead, are able to craft workable solutions for their families.”
Financial Advisor Jim Russell sees the same benefits. Originally when he started working in the divorce field, he was involved through the litigation model. He spent half his time preparing multiple requests for information, reviewing what information was missing, preparing and attending depositions and testifying in cases. Many times because the cases were so adversarial his participation would not be productive as it could be.
Parties choosing collaborative divorce avoid the need for depositions and going to court for contested hearings. In addition, the parties voluntarily exchange requested documents and avoid motions and court appearances to obtain those documents.
“In spending my time in the right areas and looking at various options that can be brainstormed in a group setting, we often get to a better answer that is satisfactory to the clients,” said Russell. “By focusing my time on working on the real issues with the clients it typically improves their understanding of the issues and a better resolution of the matters occurs for the clients.”
Regardless of their differing backgrounds, all of the professionals involved in collaborative divorce agree that the process yields the best results.
“I have had a number of collaborative clients compliment each other and say things like “she is a great mom”, “ he really was the driving force in building the company we now own together,” said Jim Russell.
“Last Christmas I had one recently divorced wife who hosted her former husband for the holiday festivities,” said Dr. Cole. “Other families are celebrating dance recitals and graduations together, focusing on the accomplishments of their children rather than reviving the resentments of their divorces.”
“Without doubt, resolving divorces collaboratively is hard work done in trying times with people at their most fragile. But there is nothing more rewarding in my eyes than to help a client end a marriage with dignity,” said Attorney Crawford.
CCDG is a group of experienced divorce professionals, including divorce and family lawyers, financial and mental health professionals who have been specifically trained in the collaborative process. Each member of the group has made a commitment to the goals of collaborative practice in order to help people achieve fair and lasting settlements without using the court or even the threat of court. Additionally, each member attends regular meetings and training sessions designed to develop and enhance their collaborative divorce skills. For more information visit: www.ctcollabrorativedivorce.com