Law Offices of Maribeth Blessing, LLC

866-603-8691 toll free

215-392-0849 local

contact Menu

TAKE THE HIGH ROAD - YOUR CHOICE

Scenario 1:

Spouse 1 to Spouse 2 (in front of child):

"If you don't agree to what I want, I'm taking you to Court and the Judge will take Joey away from you! Just because you're Mommy doesn't mean you get to call the shots!"

Scenario 1:

Spouse 1 to Spouse 2 (in front of child):

"If you don't agree to what I want, I'm taking you to Court and the Judge will take Joey away from you! Just because you're Mommy doesn't mean you get to call the shots!"

Spouse 2 to Spouse 1:

"You're such a bully but you don't scare me. My lawyer will cut you to pieces just like he did the last time. You won't get to see Joey at all if you go down this road."

Child:

"Mommy, Daddy, PLEEEAAZE stop! I'm scared.

Scenario 2:

Spouse 1 to Spouse 2:

"It's none of your business what I make or what's in my personal investment accounts. That money is mine because it all came from my hard work while you did nothing to help me pay our expenses. You're not getting another dime from me!"

Spouse 2 to Spouse 1:

"So, that's the road you're taking, huh? My lawyer told me that what is yours is mine and she will make you give us that information. She will bury you and your lawyer with paper and if you don't ante up, we'll get the Judge to make you - and YOU can pay my lawyer to do it!"

Scenario 3:

Spouse 1 to Spouse 2:

"There must be a better way to get a divorce. I just want what's fair and what makes sense for both of us and our kids."

" Me too, and most of all, I know we both want to keep our kids from getting stuck in the middle".

The Collaborative Road

The collaborative divorce process is focused on negotiating settlements that benefit the entire family, while avoiding litigation, which often results in polarizing spouses. The decision making power belongs to the parties and not judges or lawyers. The role of the attorneys is to help families navigate the divorce process in a peaceful, and cost effective manner.

Our members of Collaborative Law Professionals of Southeastern Pennsylvania are committed to helping divorcing parties find a peaceful way to resolve conflict. We are an experienced group of independent lawyers, financial specialists, communication coaches, child specialists, and adjunct professionals who are licensed professionals, and all of us are trained in the Collaborative Process. Our adjunct professionals can meet the specific needs of the parties and help avoid a "battle of the experts", which often happens in a court setting. Parties can agree to engage one expert to value their real estate holdings, a party's business, pensions, retirement accounts, vehicles, antiques, or other items of value so that they can be fairly distributed between them. Perhaps the parties need a professional to help them sell the marital home, or to help obtain a mortgage in the case of a buy out of the other party's share of a property. Together with those of you who choose this high road, we build a network of services tailored to meet your needs and your family's needs. Our team approach allows for creative and adaptive alternatives that are generated through an open dialogue and commitment among the participants.

At the outset, a Collaborative Agreement is signed which encompasses the following:

  • The commitment to resolving all of the issues attendant to a divorce which proceeds through interest based negotiations and agreement that neither party will initiate litigious court proceedings against the other.
  • The parties enter into an agreement that requires them to exercise good faith and fairness and provide a full and complete disclosure of their assets and liabilities.
  • The parties waive their right to confidentiality amongst the members of their team and commit to cooperating with their team members in providing any documents that the team member may need in order to accomplish their role in the process.
  • The agreement sets forth the rights and obligations of each team member in the event the collaborative process does not produce an agreement.
  • The parties commit to sharing any agreed upon needed experts, such as financial analysts and child psychologists. This helps keeps overall costs down.

This process is usually accomplished through a series of well planned meetings. Typically, an agenda is set for the next meeting at the end of each meeting. The parties may be assigned tasks to complete in between meetings, with the expectation that these tasks will be completed and reported upon at the next team meeting. The scope of the team is determined by the needs of the parties.

The meeting participants are determined by the topics of each meeting and the purpose of each meeting. There may be an assignment of tasks among the professionals who are attending the meeting as well, and all meetings are usually memorialized in a written document shared by all of the team participants, including the divorcing couple. Sometimes the parties are asked to meet with a specific member of the team to complete a task and report back at the next working session with Counsel and the parties. This approach also helps costs down, so that overall, this process is far less expensive than litigation, as well as less adversarial or emotionally traumatic.

Whether there is one meeting or ten meetings, the end result is usually a full settlement agreement. This agreement will outline all of the decisions made throughout the process. Both parties will understand all of the terms, including their individual rights and responsibilities. The legal team will submit the agreement to the court for final approval and incorporation into a divorce decree. Neither party or their children will ever set foot inside a courtroom through this process.

Instead of two sides working against each other, the collaborative process involves at least four people - the parties and their attorneys - thinking both "outside and inside of the box" together. The biggest advantage to this process is that the parties are the ones who are in control of their future. It makes no sense to abrogate this role to a third party who can't possibly know the needs of the family when they meet the parties at the height of a stressful and traumatic event in their lives. The power of the parties generates a practiced interaction in focusing on the needs of everyone involved instead of simply their own personal wish list. Such cooperation extends far beyond the scope of the Collaborative Divorce, as the stage is set for future cooperative interactions between the parties, who tend to come back to their team core should they reach roadblocks in the future.

Additionally, the parties can examine the interplay of all facets of their divorce and work on global settlements that flow between issues of support, parenting and a distribution of assets that will serve them not only for the present, but also the future. On the other hand, the Court is limited and fragmented into three different "tracks" - support, custody and equitable distribution, focusing on only one aspect of a marriage dissolution at a time. In litigation, there is no unity of adjudicators amongst the tracks or roads of litigation, until perhaps you get to the level of one judge for all matters. However, even at that ultimate and final level, only one of the three fragmented paths of divorce are heard by the judge at a time. People, through the trauma of a divorce embedded in litigation, often lose sight of the fact that while their marriage may be ending, their parenting relationship is not. In order to have happy, healthy children, you need to do your best to keep your relationship with the other parent cordial. Arguing over parenting issues in Court is exhausting and adversarial; it polarizes parents forever and sets a pattern of high conflict and low resolution. Ultimately, children, who are emotionally in the middle of the foray at the outset, are physically dragged into the mix by their parents insisting that the child be interviewed by a judge. Collaborative law gives you the best chance possible of being able to co-parent peacefully in the future and protect your children.

So, what road will you choose?

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

we would love your feedback