By Melissa L. Exline, Esq., Surratt Law Practice
Divorcing couples face many challenges as they try to figure out what their post-divorce life will look like. According to the IACP (“International Academy of Collaborative Professionals”), couples seeking collaborative divorce generally indicate they want to communicate with a tone of respect. They are specifically prioritizing working cooperatively. Clearly, if a couple could communicate well, they might not be facing divorce at all. So, where does that leave us? Oddly enough, just because a couple does not communicate well does not mean they don’t value good communication! There is evidence that poor communication is the #1 reason couples split up (www.divorcestatistics.info). Many people struggle with trust – but in divorce, when litigation is on the table, it can make a person question every action, wondering what is the motivation or tactical reason for everything.
Collaborative Practice puts respect, dignity, openness and fairness at the forefront. Using these guiding principles definitely enhances communications. It is structured in such a way that it bolsters open and honest dialogue. Parties each have their own collaboratively trained lawyer, and have the benefit of a collaborative coach and financial specialist, all of whom work as a team to negotiate a mutually acceptable resolution. All the cards are on the table and the net result is families can reach a better, longer lasting agreement.
Most family law attorneys that have gone to trial will tell you – trial is not the answer. It is one way to divorce, sure. And there are times when trial, is in fact, forced upon a person. But having a Judge who does not know you decide some of the most important aspects of your life (all at a time of emotional trauma), based on a gut reaction and limited information, is not most people’s first choice. Collaborative Divorce is structured to decrease hostility, increase understanding, and avoid the pitfalls of traditional court-centered litigation.