When people hear that a Collaborative divorce process involves not only two attorneys but also a mental health professional and a financial professional, they often assume it will be more expensive than a simple two-attorney negotiation. It isn’t.
Having just two attorneys does not make the negotiation more simple, and it does not minimize costs. It just means that the attorneys are doing all the work, including the gathering and synthesis of financial information, the proposals about how resources should be allocated, the creation of parenting plans, and the emotional coaching. More significantly, both of them are doing that work, and they’re often working against one another rather than together. That’s a recipe for inefficiency, conflict, and frustration.
In a Collaborative divorce, the financial professional creates the property reports, the mental health professional does parenting and family systems coaching, and the attorneys aren’t billing for any of that time. That means overall fees will be less, not more.
The attorneys guide and support their clients. They prepare their clients for full-team meetings; they help formulate questions and identify concerns; they provide context and wisdom gleaned from their knowledge of the law and their experience working with many other clients. They help clients stay focused on the goal of reaching agreements that will clear the path to peaceful futures for themselves and their children.
All of the professionals work together to facilitate smooth, organized, productive meetings.
Because all clients and their circumstances are different, costs are different too. Sometimes the professionals put many hours into a case to meet the needs of their clients, sometimes fewer. Cost varies with complexity, whether financial, familial or psychological.
The surest path to a cost-effective divorce is a process that minimizes duplication of efforts, that helps dampen and resolve conflict, that helps clients broaden their perspectives and stay focused. Collaborative Law is designed for these purposes, while traditional two-attorney divorce negotiations (and litigation!) too often veer in the opposite direction: towards inefficiency and conflict.
The more complicated the situation, the more crucial is attention to process. Otherwise, things can get messy fast. Collaborative Law isn’t just for “easy” divorces where everyone is getting along and highly functioning (as one myth about Collaborative Law would have it). On the contrary, Collaboration is for when it’s complicated, and resources need to be allocated carefully to meet that complexity fully and effectively.
To schedule a consultation call (206) 447-4348 or visit www.mathewsonlaw.com. Our office is located at 230 Gaines St., Port Townsend, WA 98368.