As the saying goes: “There is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come.” Well, now is the time for divorcing couples to end their marriage with collaborative divorce.
Why do I believe that a collaborative divorce is a powerful idea whose time has come? It all goes back to 2004. I had just finished a lengthy divorce trial. Communication between the husband and wife was non-existent at the conclusion of the trial because of the statements made in documents leading up to the trial and the testimony that was introduced at the trial. Not only did the parents not speak to each other but neither did the children speak to each other. One child was living with the wife and the other child was living with the husband. I decided at that point I was not going to litigate another divorce case.
Thoughts of another career came to my mind. I liked exercise and being outdoors so I considered becoming a landscaper. It was never my intent to destroy families going through a divorce. I had always wanted to help my client move forward with their life. I also always believed that divorcing parties needed the assistance of other professionals to help them through the divorce process.
So—after briefly considering a change in careers, I goggled the words “collaborate on divorce” and unbeknownst to me found that Stu Webb has invented “collaborative divorce” in Minnesota in 1990.
Collaborative approach requires the parties to enter into a contract not to litigate. It also calls upon the assistance of mental health professionals to serve as a “coach” to help the parties facilitate communication during the meetings with their spouses and both attorneys. The coach can also work with the parties to develop a parenting plan, if children are involved. Financial professionals are also utilized as part of a team if there is a business to be valued or the parties need assistance in determining their budgets going forward.
So the idea whose time has come came to New Jersey with a group of 10 like-minded individuals at a conference room in Toms River in 2004. It is now 9 years later and my life is much richer and my career more rewarding. I have seen families who are communicating better after their divorce than they did their entire married life. I have also witnessed children who are not damaged by the divorce process and are thriving in their new environments with each of their parents. The parties save money and time by entering the collaborative divorce process and in so doing also save the emotionally damaging roller coaster ride of a litigated divorce.