Full-Team Collaborative Practice: Diverse Expertise Provides Best Value

Working together as a team Collaborative Practice professionals can provide your family invaluable assistance. Members pictured (left to right): Shawn Weber, Meredith Lewis, Frann Setzer, Anna Janda, Anna Addleman." width="800" height="589" /> The San Diego "Divorce Options team (L to R): Shawn Weber, Meredith Lewis, Frann Setzer, Anna Janda, Anna Addleman.

by Shawn Weber, Certified Family Law Specialist
Weber Dispute Resolution, Solana Beach, California

Working together as a team Collaborative Practice professionals can provide your family invaluable assistance. Members pictured (left to right): Shawn Weber, Meredith Lewis, Frann Setzer, Anna Janda, Anna Addleman." width="800" height="589" /></a> The San Diego "Divorce Options team (L to R): Shawn Weber, Meredith Lewis, Frann Setzer, Anna Janda, Anna Addleman.

Working together as a team Collaborative Practice professionals can provide your family invaluable assistance. Members pictured (left to right): Shawn Weber, Meredith Lewis, Frann Setzer, Anna Janda, Anna Addleman.” width=”800″ height=”589″ /> The San Diego “Divorce Options team (L to R): Shawn Weber, Meredith Lewis, Frann Setzer, Anna Janda, Anna Addleman.

The Full-Team Collaborative Divorce Process

Collaborative Practice is an excellent way to resolve difficult disputes including issues surrounding divorce or separation. In a Collaborative Divorce, parties hire specially trained attorneys who enter inter into a written agreement with the parties th

CFLGSD member Shawn Weber is the new president of Collaborative Practice California.

CFLGSD member Shawn Weber is the new president of Collaborative Practice California.

at the attorneys will never go to court. In addition, the parties recruit mental health professionals

 

to act as coaches for each of the parties to help with the difficult emotions in the case. They hire a neutral financial specialist to help with the money issues and a child specialist to serve as a voice for the children. If the case veers towards litigation, the team withdraws.

By removing the specter of court, parties can focus on positive solutions instead of adversarial bickering. Collaborative Practice is a great way to get a divorce without wasting the family nest egg and without screwing up the kids.

It’s a great process and provides maximum support to the parties from a broad range of professional perspectives. However, the most frequent concern I hear from clients and professionals when contemplating a collaborative process involves the cost. While collaborative divorce is certainly less expensive than litigation, it can be more expensive than some other out-of-court options. Furthermore, the more experts and professionals are involved, the more complicated and challenging it can be to manage all the moving parts.

 

Collaborative Practice Saves Families Money with Specialization

The complaint about the complexity and cost of a full team misses the most important point about why Collaborative Practice is so great. In a full-team Collaborative Divorce, the parties achieve terrific economies of scale through specialization. This means that you save money and get better value from your process because you are paying the best people for the best work for the best price.

For example, most lawyers went to law school because they were not math majors. You probably don’t want to have a lawyer as your financial specialist. However, attorneys tend to have then highest billing rates. So why would you pay the most expensive person to not do the best work when it comes to financial analysis? That’s where the financial specialist comes in. She has specific expertise in divorce finances and bills the appropriate market billing rate for her services. Instead of wasting money with the attorney to get bad financial advice, use the financial specialist to get better information for less money. That’s a win-win.

Similarly, when I did litigation, clients who were rightfully stressed out about how to interact with their estranged spouse would try to use me as a mental health professional. But, newsflash, I am not a mental health professional and am not qualified to provide that type of work. Although I am good at working with people, nothing replaces that expertise and knowledge of a trained mental health professional when dealing with the emotions of divorce.

Rather than paying the attorney to do subpar mental health work, you hire the mental health professional for his expertise in providing the best coaching or child specialist service for the best price. Again, that’s value to you and to your family. What’s more, you get a level of diverse professional support that is simply not available in any other process. Your kids and your finances will thank you.

This is refreshing for the lawyer, because now she can do what she does best: the legal work. Use the lawyer to understand the law and get the advice you need to enter a valid, enforceable and informed agreement. Because the lawyer is in the room and on your side, you know you have a settlement minded attorney who’s got your back at the negotiation table.

Diversity Provides Strength in Collaborative Practice

Remember, the great strength of Collaborative Practice is the diversity of professionals. The very fact that you have a full team of professionals looking at your case from diverse backgrounds and professional specialties gives your family the best chance of transitioning with the best possible information and support for the very best value. It protects your kids, your pocketbook and your dignity.

 

Empower Yourself During Your Divorce

Debra N. Caliguri, family law and divorce attorney, Carlsbad

by Debra Caliguri, Law and Mediation Offices of Debra N. Caliguri

How many times have we all heard and even repeated the phrase “Ignorance is

Debra N. Caliguri, family law and divorce attorney, Carlsbad

Debra N. Caliguri

bliss”?  Itmay be popular, but ignorance is bliss is no credo to live by. One online dictionary defines “Ignorance is bliss” as “a term used to falsely justify apathy on the given subject in the form of a catchy cliche.”

In our knowledge-based society it is unlikely that choosing to be ignorant will bring you success in any of your life’s endeavors. This is particularly so when you are going through a major life transition like divorce.

Gone are the days when you and your spouse can afford to hire attorneys to take your case and leave the decision-making and thinking to the attorneys and judge to figure it out. Instead, you need to empower yourselves by gathering reliable information and becoming a savvy consumer of divorce-related services.

One of my clients recently concluded her divorce process in which I served as her Collaborative attorney. She and her husband had been married over 20 years, had children preparing for college, and with ten years or less to work before reaching retirement age, they were concerned with preserving their retirement funds.

Like many divorcing couples, both spouses felt wounded and found it difficult to trust the other. Their children were hurting as well, having witnessed the parental conflict over the years. The parties had disagreements over financial, legal, and even parenting issues.

The one thing they agreed upon: they wanted to stop the hurt, not only for their own sake, but for the sake of their children. This goal led them to seek alternatives to a knock-down, drag out fight in court.

The couple considered mediation, but decided they needed more information, advice, and support than the neutral mediator could provide. They found their way to Collaborative divorce after meeting with several attorneys and financial professionals. Through the Collaborative process, they were able to successfully reach a full agreement in under six months.

My client is extremely grateful she found the Collaborative divorce process and shared with me what she had learned to help going through a painful divorce.

My client found that for her, Collaborative divorce was superior to going to court, as the Collaborative process fosters an environment of creative problem-solving. This is strikingly different than what happens in court where a judge makes decisions in an atmosphere of mud-slinging advocacy.

The team approach was key to providing the parties with the right information, financial analysis, legal advice and emotional support to reach a mutually agreeable conclusion. My client said the time spent on the Collaborative process was productive time in which the parties were directed and engaged with the team to identify issues, define their interests, and the issues at hand.  The Collaborative team members facilitated the couple’s discussions, which led to their finding a path to agreement on all their issues.

The presence of legal counsel, the financial expert and coaches resulted in the parties feeling safe enough to talk to each other directly about their goals, concerns, and needs for their individual futures. They found common ground in wanting what is best for the children.

Collaborative divorce may not suit those people who prefer blissful ignorance. But it is the wise choice for those who choose knowledge, even in a difficult and painful life transition.