Is Collaborative Family Law the “Kumbayah” Divorce?

Most of us remember singing the “Kumbayah” song around the campfire when we were young. My guess is that most people do not know that the 1930’s African-American spiritual was originally associated with human and spiritual unity, closeness and compassion. It is a song associated with happy times. Bottom line: You don’t hear people singing it in the midst of their divorce (collaborative or otherwise).

Collaborative Family Law is not some magical process that turns separating/combative spouses (or soon to be ex-spouses) into “best friends.” Make no mistake about it, this alternative process requires participants to roll up their sleeves and work hard to reach mutually agreeable resolutions. The difference in the Collaborative process is that it provides participants with the opportunity to divorce with dignity and respect and outside the courtroom.

If you and your spouse have decided to separate or end your marriage, the Collaborative process allows you to work with your lawyers and, on occasion, other family professionals in order to avoid the uncertain outcome of court and to achieve a settlement that best meets the specific needs of your family without the underlying threat of contested litigation. Some of the benefits of Collaborative Family Law include:

Encourages Mutual Respect by Utilizing a Problem Solving Approach
In Collaborative Divorce, the combativeness of litigation is replaced by a cooperative process that gives families resources and options unavailable in traditional divorce models. All participants agree to work together respectfully, honestly and in good faith to find win-win solutions that address the legitimate needs of both parties.

Emphasizes the Needs of Children
The conflicts inherent in litigation can take an immense toll on the parties’ financial situation, their emotional well-being and their children. The number one predictor of how children deal with their parents’ divorce is the level of conflict between their parents.

Greater Privacy and Confidentiality
The Collaborative Divorce model provides divorcing parties (with the assistance of their attorneys) the opportunity to problem solve in a private/confidential setting, as opposed to filing claims in public documents and testifying in an open courtroom.

Client Control Over the Settlement Process
The parties are able to keep control of the process as opposed to following the deadlines and time restraints set by the Court.

Cost Effective
Collaborative Law is not inexpensive. However, attorney’s fees increase dramatically when the attorney sends out numerous letters complaining or demanding action, files numerous pleadings complaining about or requesting actions, sets hearings, conducts numerous depositions, demands voluminous discovery and so on. The Collaborative process helps to reduce and/or eliminate many of these expenses.

Instead of relying on standard formulas for child support or property division or standard schedules for visitation, the Collaborative process encourages parties to think outside the box and reach a creative settlement that meets the needs of their family.

James, McElroy & Diehl, P.A. has family law attorneys who have significant experience in the Collaborative Family Law process. We also understand that there are some situations not suited for this process. Our lawyers will consider all issues, including the client’s desires, in advising about the Collaborative Family Law process.