The Efficiency of the Collaborative Divorce Settlement Process

Integral to the Collaborative Divorce settlement process is efficiency in making the best use of personnel for specific tasks. This personnel includes not only the two attorneys but the financial professional, the divorce coach and the child specialist.

It might seem that use of this personal is overly costly and likely reserved for the wealthy. Upon further inspection, however, it is quite the opposite. In the traditional divorce, it is the attorney who performs, or tries to perform, the tasks that are undertaken by the specialists and professionals in the Collaborative process; and the attorney does so just for his or her own client. Thus, attorneys on opposite sides of the case are often performing duplicate tasks and then arguing about the results.

In addition, the performance of the various divorce related tasks by the attorney occurs at a higher hourly wage than the non-attorney collaborative professional. As important, the skill level is not as high. Attorneys are not financial professionals. They do not normally do taxes, nor do they appraise pension plans, or devise tax impact spousal maintenance schedules or easily undertake the calculation of separately owned interests in marital property. The financial professionals do all these tasks as a normal part of their professional practice.

Another example of the collaborative professionals undertaking divorce related tasks at a higher skill level and in a less costly way than attorneys can occur when the difficult symptoms of the emotional divorce (which often occur concurrent with the legal divorce) begin to interfere with the orderly process of negotiation and discussion of the legal issues. The attorney is not normally equipped to deal with the client’s emotional issues of confusion, denial, hurt, anger and grief. This lack of experience can prolong the traditional divorce process, create numerous obstacles and exacerbate the financial costs to the client.

However, when a divorce coach is employed in the Collaborative Divorce Process, he or she has the experience to tend to the emotional needs of each client. Often one coach is used for both clients, and the coach can help with such issues as communication deficiencies, normalizing the grief and loss process and calming the emotional turmoil experienced by many clients during a legal divorce. This work by the divorce coach can short circuit potential difficulties in the legal discussions and negotiations and help restore the process to the calm waters needed for rational decision-making. Thus, impasse can be avoided.

Finally, unlike the attorney, the child specialist employed in the collaborative process has the experience and skills needed to focus on the needs of children caught up in the divorce. The often unheard voices of children can be brought to the table and laid bare for the adults to consider. This will facilitate discussions around needed parental attention and thoughtful parent plans that can be made part of the final agreement.