Snapshot of collaborative divorce

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There is no such thing as an "easy" divorce. How can it be easy to walk away from a person that you once loved or still love, but can no longer be with? You may value your friendship with your soon to be former spouse or, at the very least, still value having a functional relationship with them, especially if children are involved. In any case, do you truly want to destroy any amicable feelings that you both may have for each other, through the slash and dagger of the traditional divorce?

In the traditional divorce, one party files and the other party responds. It may start out amicable, even "uncontested". The distress happens when one disagreement leads to another one. Eventually, feelings are hurt, lines are drawn in the sand, and the mudslinging begins. You and your spouse begin to communicate solely through your respective attorneys and every word or action is a weapon to be used against one another. There is a battle for the home, the cars, the bank accounts and for alimony or child support. There's even a battle for the children! In the traditional divorce, things can go from amicable to downright hostile very quickly and, usually, the only people who have not dug in their heels to become the "winner" are the children who are watching this play out in front of them. They have watched the two of you morph from civil, if not loving, adults, to one person armies waging emotional and financial warfare against one another. Imagine the affect that must have on such impressionable, young minds. Even if you "win" the divorce, you've lost a piece of your dignity and, due to the amount of legal work required within a traditional divorce, a great deal of your money.

Your divorce does not have to be messy. You do not have to lose your dignity or bleed cash. If you choose the Collaborative Divorce process, you can look your children in the eye after the divorce process, without embarrassment or shame. You can maintain a civil relationship with your former spouse. You can move on with your life as a whole and complete individual, not a battle scarred shell of the person you used to be.

In a Collaborative Divorce, you will have a team of specially trained professionals committed to supporting you and your spouse through the process. The team consists of two attorneys - one for you and one for your spouse, a neutral financial professional, and a neutral facilitator. Your team will empower both of you to be open, honest, and transparent; to identify your future goals for a reorganized family dynamic; and to jointly decide how you want your divorce, and your lives after divorce, to work.

During the process, your attorney will protect your legal rights, inform you of your legal responsibilities, and help you weigh the consequences of the decisions you are making. Your neutral financial professional will gather financial information from both of you and analyze the entire financial situation, jointly and individually. They will explain your financial realities and help you develop options to achieve your individual and joint goals. If necessary, additional experts are used to give valuations on businesses or have properties appraised in order to give accurate advice. Your neutral facilitator will help both of you work through the stress and emotions that comes with going through a divorce. If you have children, the neutral facilitator, typically a trained mental health professional, may also help them handle their feelings about the divorce, as well as help you and your spouse create a functional parenting plan. In most cases, the neutral facilitator also moderates the meetings so that everyone remains respectful and focused.

The Collaborative Divorce process is confidential, discreet, and will usually conclude much faster than a traditional divorce. It is not an "easy" process, because it does require time, effort, and a genuine commitment from both parties to work through difficult issues. However, it is a process which allows you both to walk away from your marriage with dignity and without regrets or bitterness. It's a gentler "goodbye." The Collaborative Divorce strives to leave you with the one thing that is missing in most divorces - Peace.