According to the Holmes Rahe Stress Scale, which ranks 43 life-changing stressful events in order of the amount of stress they impose on people, divorce ranks second. The only event that causes more stress than divorce is the death of a loved one. This is true for men and women of all ages.
No matter how old a woman is or how many years she has been married, or whether or not there are children involved, divorce is emotionally and financially difficult. A new trend encouraged by many courts and divorce lawyers is collaborative divorce. This takes the important decisions out of the hands of the court and puts the parties in charge of coming to a mutual agreement regarding all relevant issues to the divorce process. Attorneys and consultants work with the parties to make the life change with the least amount of animosity possible.
How the collaborative divorce process works
The parties have their own attorneys and all agree to settle their issues without going to court. The divorcing couple and their attorneys sign a participation agreement confirming they will not take the matter to court. Various experts may be called in to assist the parties in coming to an agreement on all matters. Financial experts may meet with the parties to discuss the division of assets, assumption of debt as well as spousal and child support. Child psychologists may be consulted in making child custody decisions.
In order to maintain the integrity of the process, the attorneys who work on the collaborative process commit themselves to doing everything they can to resolve the issues in a satisfactory way. If, as happens only occasionally, the parties cannot agree on issues, the attorneys who worked on the collaboration must bow out of representation. Different attorneys are brought in for litigation. This keeps the attorneys from threatening court proceedings if they do not get their way.
Benefits of collaborative divorce for women
• It is a more peaceful process with less acrimony than a conventional divorce. An atmosphere of cooperation is the norm, not animosity.
• The parties are both considered “team members” instead of adversaries.
• The process focuses on making the best decisions for all parties.
• The experts that are brought in to help work for the team, not for one party or the other. If one person wants a second opinion, for example to place a value on a business, the team will hire someone to give the second opinion who still works on behalf of the team.
• It saves money. Experts estimate that a collaborative divorce costs half of much as a traditional divorce that requires litigation and going to court.
• It is faster and generally can be completed in as few as four months as opposed to a year or more to settle contested issues with litigation.
• The parties agree in writing to be honest with each and provide full disclosure of all relevant information.
• If there are children, the process allows a parenting plan to be developed that will maintain amicable relationships and ease future communications.
• The parties can make any agreements that are acceptable to both of them. They are the decision makers, not a disinterested court.
• There will always be emotional pain associated with divorce; however, those women who have gone through the collaborative divorce process express less bitterness than those who have experienced a traditional divorce.
If you’d like me to introduce you to a family law attorney that can assist you with collaborative divorce, or if you have any other questions, please contact me. I’m happy to help.
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