Articles Posted in Collaborative Law

Dissolving a marriage or partnership is never easy: divorce and mediation are never stress-free. Many factors need to be considered, decisions need to be made and plans need to be mutually agreed upon. Your divorce lawyer is an integral part of ending your marriage, but there is a lot you can do on your own to plan for your divorce and make decisions about the future of your family.

Books, articles and support groups provide information, resources and assistance in helping you manage your divorce and consider issues that you aren’t yet aware of, or need more information on. There are many good resources available by parenting experts, therapists and psychologists, financial planners, and divorce and mediation lawyers that can help you navigate your own divorce.

Note: Vacca Law receives no affiliate or referral fees;

At the beginning of each new year, many couples who have been contemplating divorce make a final decision to move forward and end their marriage. That decision was probably hard enough to come to. But there is one more important decision the two of you have to make — HOW will you divorce? What process will you use? You may have heard about the collaborative divorce process from friends, or colleagues, or just your own research online. It sounds exactly like what you need, but you’re not sure how to talk to your spouse about the idea. The one thing you don’t want to do is try and force your spouse to use the process. You don’t want him or her to enter the process under duress. Instead, you want to make sure that your spouse has the information he or she needs to properly consider this process. Continue reading

I recently presented a workshop entitled “Collaborating in the Face of Financial Betrayal” at the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals 18th Annual Networking and Educational Forum, alongside my colleagues, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Ivy Menchel and Divorce Coach, Abby Rosmarin.

While this workshop was geared to the divorce professionals in the room, there are many lessons that anyone who has dealt with financial betrayal in his or her own marriage — and is contemplating divorce — should understand.

To start, we defined financial betrayal as the keeping of financial secrets in an intimate relationship. Financial secrets are different from other secrets because of the enormous ramifications that often result from them for many years to come.

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{3 minutes to read} Recently, I was the mediator for a couple that was experiencing significant obstacles in reaching their divorce agreement. One of the parties was furious at the other for wanting the divorce, and he was finding it very difficult to move past his anger. Luckily there was a very powerful force working in favor of finding a resolution: Time.

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Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser—in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.

–  Abraham Lincoln

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The primary function of a consulting attorney is to provide advice and counsel during the mediation process and provide the support you need to advocate for yourself. This is different from a “review attorney” whose primary job is to review the agreement that has been drafted after the mediation process is over. These are 2 very different roles. If you took my previous advice and are interviewing consulting attorneys, these are 3 important questions to ask.

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When it comes to choosing an alternative to divorcing in court, both divorce mediation and collaborative divorce have their own unique advantages.

Divorce Mediation

Divorce mediation is a private and confidential method of non-adversarial divorce in which the participants advocate for their own needs and concerns without a lawyer present in the room. The mediator will help the parties reach a consensus through a series of 3-way meetings. Although the negotiations are taking place between the spouses, it is highly recommended that each party has a consulting attorney during the process. The mediator is able to provide the couple with legal information, but a consulting attorney can provide a party with individual legal advice. Additionally, the parties may wish to consult other professionals such as appraisers, financial professionals, accountants, and divorce coaches.

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This fall, I attended a meeting of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, where one of the keynote speakers was Donna Hicks, PhD. Throughout Donna’s academic and professional career she has written books about the power of dignity and, specifically, its importance in negotiations of all kinds. Her past clients have included the United States Navy, several large healthcare systems and corporations, and various governments around the world.

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One of the weaknesses of litigated divorce is that it encourages rigid thinking that stands in the way of compromise.

Choosing your battles wisely is an important strategy in all areas of life, including if you are in the process of divorce. Unfortunately, traditional divorce attorneys often neglect to give their clients this advice, encouraging them to fight for everything they say they want, regardless of how impractical, impossible or destructive it may be.  And when the other spouse inevitably takes opposite positions on those same issues, there’s nowhere to go but to the courthouse where both parties will be subjected to the slow-moving and very public litigation process.

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