In 2014, Nolo Press Occidental – a publisher in California that produces do-it-yourself legal books and software- asked people to identify the most significant issues they faced while going through their divorce.

The top hurdle identified by those surveyed related to ‘understanding and managing financial issues’ (ie- managing the costs of divorce, division of assets, spousal & child support, valuing a business, handling pensions and retirement accounts etc.). The second most difficult issue identified was ‘dealing with an uncooperative spouse’ (ie. refusal to negotiate, uncontrolled emotions, domestic violence, child custody disagreement, personality disorders etc.)

Resolving these two key challenges – financial and emotional- by rote application of legal rules and the use of power-based positional bargaining and the ever-present threat of the court ‘hammer’- doesn’t always serve families well or create sustainable agreements families feel confident about committing to. Impasse, corrosive costs, delay, toxic relationships and families stripped of precious wealth is often the result and ensures divorce remains a $50 billion dollar a year North American industry.

There is however some good news!

A small, but growing ‘hot core’ of professionals – family, financial and legal – are offering couples a new “team-based /client-centred’ approach to separation and divorce.

  1. Collaborative Process differs from traditional court-sponsored family law in that both spouses commit in writing to
  2. Negotiate a fair settlement without resort to the courts
  3. Provide full, transparent and ongoing disclosure of all financial and other information

Engage and use the skills and insights of a specially trained and certified Collaborative Professional Team (Family, Financial & Legal) to reach a settlement that works for both spouses and their family.

What???? Given the high cost of retaining and paying lawyers how in heaven’s name can anyone suggest that you should now consider hiring additional professionals? Doesn’t that drive up costs? Can’t the lawyers just handle the whole thing? What’s the benefit to me of team?

Think back to the top two divorce challenges identified by the NOLO PRESS survey – Financial & Emotional! Lawyers aren’t trained or certified to provide financial analysis and planning or manage potential conflict and craft Parenting Agreements.

  1. A collaborative team brings deep, diverse skills and offers you and your family exactly what you need in exactly the right sequence as often and for as long as either of you need it – for the appropriate price.
  2. Financial and Family professionals are collaboratively-trained neutrals who work for both of you to help create sustainable financial and parenting commitments you both understand and feel are fair. Their approach doesn’t focus on ‘legal’ process – their time with both of you focus on ‘learning’ and ‘problem-solving’ – as a basis for sound, future-oriented long-term planning. Their expense is a shared investment … with you and your spouse dividing the cost of these professionals.
  3. Adding advisors is not about adding money. The financial elements of your divorce are now performed by experienced, lower-cost, financially certified financial analysts. The parenting agreement is agreed by the two of you with the benefit of experienced, lower-cost, parenting experts.
  4. Much of the work of all the collaborative professionals – family, financial & legal – is performed off-line in tandem outside of formal meetings – speeding up the work of the team.
  5. Each member of the team brings you a wider variety of insights and experience – their distinctly different training can generate far more ideas and approaches for consideration, resolve impasse and increase the effectiveness of your final agreement.

A Collaborative Team offers:

  • A complete, client-centred answer to each of the wicked, thorny problems experienced by families involved in traditional court-sponsored family law
  • Focuses exclusively on the goals, interests and concerns identified by both clients
  • Operates as a team – where a problem for either spouse is a problem for all of the professionals who work to see both spouses and their family succeed

John Williamson
Fairmore Family Law Financial Solutions

To learn more about the ‘Collaborative Family Process” click

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