It seems a little strange to talk about commitment when you are contemplating divorce. If your marriage is broken, chances are you’ve decided you no longer want to make any commitments to each other. But if you’ve chosen to end things amicably through a collaborative divorce, you will need commitment to get you through this process.
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to practice collaborative divorce. This way of divorcing is not like many of the divorces you hear about and like many of the divorces I litigated years ago. The amount of fighting between couples and the resulting impacts on their children became too much for me to witness. Those types of divorces devastated families – emotionally and financially. I decided years ago I wanted to do divorce differently. Now, I’m specially trained to help couples work as a team to separate their assets, decide child custody, and the like.
But this process is not just a promise to play nice.
It’s a commitment – a legal commitment to work together – and as such, it must be taken seriously. If things go awry, the consequences can be damaging.
When you choose a collaborative divorce, both you and your spouse (or ex-spouse, or soon-to-be ex-spouse) will work with your respective attorneys and with each other to resolve all issues pertaining to your divorce. All parties sign a legally binding contract, requiring both sides to act in good faith, disclose all required information, and be fully transparent with one another and the collaborative team.
Sometimes, couples will hire additional experts who serve as neutral third parties to assist with specific issues. For example, a financial neutral can analyze all of the assets and debts, make tax projections, and present a spreadsheet proposing how everything can be divided most equitably. A child specialist can provide input on what custody schedule might work best for the children. A divorce coach can ensure that the spouses stay on track emotionally during the collaborative process and each have the emotional and mental health support they need to tackle the legal problems.
Change of Heart
If all parties are working together as spelled out in the contract, what could go wrong? As you can imagine, divorces can be emotionally devastating. Sometimes, spouses start off in agreement until something happens that gives them a change of heart. They no longer want to be amicable. If that’s you, I would encourage you to reconsider.
If you or your spouse stop cooperating, you are legally in breach of the contract you signed to participate in good faith during the collaborative process. That means your likely next step is entering into litigation. Remember, you’re trying to avoid the courtroom.
Whatever work you’ve done will result in very little progress if the collaborative process terminates. If you end this process, you will have to dismiss your current attorney and retain a new one. If you have an outstanding legal bill, you’ll still have to pay it. If you’ve created any documents with your attorney or had any specialists involved, you won’t be able to take any of that work product with you to the next attorney.
Although there are many reasons to stay committed to the collaborative process, the aforementioned scenarios are two very good incentives for keeping your case collaborative. I’ve been practicing collaborative law for many years now. I’ve helped couples resolve their divorces outside of the courtroom – even when there’s infidelity or marital misconduct of some kind involved. Even in these emotionally difficult circumstances, two people can still work together to end their marriage peacefully and efficiently. I’m committed to helping you divorce collaboratively.
Will you be committed?
Our mission statement here at Dasher Law is “Divorce Differently.” We know your divorce can be different. Call us to set up a consultation. We’d love to help.
Lindsey Dasher is the Managing Partner at Dasher Law PLLC