DIVORCE / COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE
At WALDING LLC, we represent spouses in only one distinct type of divorce cases - Collaborative Divorces. Collaborative Divorce is a unique type of divorce transaction in which both spouses retain independent attorneys plus in most cases engage a family therapist / psychologist as a "coach" and also may engage an independent financial analyst and child therapists. The State of Alabama happens to be one of a handful of states that have adopted a version of the Uniform Collaborative Law Act, which provides a statutory construct allowing lawyers and clients to enjoy working together collaboratively to resolve disputes.
Traditional divorce transactions involve litigation with the main focus of the proceedings on prior bad acts on the part of both spouses. In contrast, Collaborative Divorce focuses on the future and how each spouse will be able to function independently and potentially enter into a different co-parenting dynamic. A key component of this process involves both spouses committing to full disclosure of facts and data with an eye toward entering into a final divorce settlement agreement.
In light of the new concept of Collaborative Divorce, below is a brief FAQ section that might be helpful for a better understanding of the process. Donna Byrd and Brian Walding both practice in the Collaborative Divorce arena, which is the exclusive type of divorce services WALDING LLC offers.
Is collaborative divorce more expensive?
- Typically, Collaborative Divorce is not more expensive than a traditional litigated divorce. However, Collaborative Divorce may not necessarily be cheaper than a traditional litigated divorce. The main difference in Collaborative Divorce is the focus on the process that foster effective communication skills enabling the couple to communicate going forward rather than dredging up past perceived failings of the other spouse.
If I change my mind during the Collaborative Divorce process and decide to litigate the divorce, can you continue to represent me?
- No. Part of the engagement agreement in the Collaborative Divorce process explicitly provides that counsel for both spouses MUST withdraw from representation of their clients if one of the spouses opts to take the divorce to litigation. While this may seem unfair, it commits all the parties involved in the Collaborative Divorce process to make every effort to resolve the divorce through the Collaborative Process. Additionally, should one of the parties resort to litigation as part of this process, none of the exchanges or negotiations that were part of the Collaborative Divorce process are admissible in the divorce litigation.
How many professionals are involved in this process?
- At a minimum, each spouse is represented by their own attorney in the Collaborative Divorce process. Additionally, it is typical that at least one "coach" is involved to assist with communication issues between the spouses and their counsel. The coach is been trained in the Collaborative Divorce process and is typically a family therapist or psychologist. The coach is not working to reconcile the marriage; rather, the coach facilitates communication and help the parties work through any breakdowns in communication, assess areas of sensitivity and encourage the free exchange of ideas in the Collaborative Divorce process. At times, there may be two (2) coaches involved - one for each spouse. This enables a coach to focus on one spouse's needs relative to the Collaborative Divorce process. In addition to the coaches, the parties may engage a child specialist to interview children to determine the impact of the pending divorce on the children in the marriage. Finally, may engage a financial consultant to assist with asset and distribution as part of the Collaborative Divorce process.
With so many professionals potentially involved, how is this cost-beneficial?
- Of course, with so many professionals potentially involved, it may seem overwhelming at first glance. Many times, a Collaborative Divorce may be achieved with one coach serving also as the child specialist. However, even if numerous professionals are engaged, the difference between the Collaborative Divorce process and regular litigation is all the professionals are engaged as needed and working cooperatively with all information provided by both spouses without "games" that may sometimes be played in traditional litigated divorces. That is, you may spend more upfront in the Collaborative Divorce process but at the end of the day, each spouse will likely spend less because of the cooperation involved in utilizing one expert in a particular area versus a "battle of experts" for financial valuation, child psychology issues and the like.
I'm interested in this process, but I still have more questions. Where do I go from here?