3 Tips on how to Divorce more collaboratively
You don’t need to be friends with your Ex
Most people who are getting a divorce or ending a cohabiting relationship are not the best of friends when they split. But sometimes the relationship can be very amicable, and that makes the divorce/separation process much less expensive and stressful.
In such cases the collaborative process – where both the couple have a collaboratively trained lawyer to sit with them and give advice, but who engage together with the couple in a round-table style discussion where solutions are sought and going to court is avoided – is a very practical route to take in order to settle financial and child arrangements.
But what about those many couples who are not ‘friends’ anymore – can they use the collaborative process and avoid a nasty divorce?
It would be unrealistic to expect most couples to be the best of friends during a divorce or separation, but the good news is, a stay-out-of-court route is perfectly realistic using the collaborative process, providing the couple follow the following top tips from Julian McEvoy of RHW Solicitors:
No. 1 – You don’t need to be friends
Some loss of friendship is very likely to have occurred, and although it helps if you still like one another – luckily that is not essential! As long as you can sit around a table with your collaborative lawyers at your side, and have a reasonable guided discussion on the financial or children issues that still need to be agreed, then that will still allow you to successfully access this route through divorce.
No. 2 – You must be transparent
As a couple in the collaborative law process, it is important to be open and transparent with each other. This includes how you feel, which although it needs to be expressed in ways that doesn’t make your ex partner feel ‘attacked’ – clearing the air is important. Whatever is kept secret may come back to bite you later – and you don’t want to be wasting time denying having a new partner, for example, when simply telling the truth may allow the process to continue and not get stalled on emotional issues.
If help from a therapist or life coach would be beneficial (which often is the case) then the couple could individually or together find someone to work through the emotional issues at less cost than they will be spending on lawyers fees, so this can be an investment worth making. Also, some coaches and counsellors are able to join in with the collaborative process if all are agreed, though they would normally require some additional training to make sure that they fully understand the process.
Trust may need to be built up first between a couple before they are ready to deal with working with their lawyers to move their divorce to a conclusion, but interestingly, the collaborative law process itself can help couples to build that trust.
No. 3 – Don’t hide assets!
Don’t conceal assets – this is critical. Not only is it not legal to do so, but it will make the divorce process unnecessarily expensive and protracted if forensic accountants have to become involved. The collaborative process just isn’t going to work if one or both parties are trying to hide financial assets, and they will be wasting their own time – and everyone else’s.
Mediation is also a way to keep your divorce or family separation out of court, and the same rules apply as above.