navigating divorce with collaborative law
by Alexis Squier, a Principal at Strata Law Group, PLLC
To reach a port, we must sail – sail, not tie at anchor – sail, not drift.
-Franklin D. Roosevelt
You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.
Collaborative Law empowers our clients to be co-captains of their own ship as they navigate the stress and challenges of divorce. Collaborative Law provides what other approaches to dispute resolution often do not provide: a team of pilots to give learned guidance and support where the captains may feel vulnerable. Our clients are not alone; each has a legal advocate trained to ensure the client is prepared, well-informed, and well-heard. Each client is also encouraged and supported toward better communication with and empathy toward their ex-spouse or partner. Each lawyer is an advocate for their own client and for the Collaborative Process that will lead the family to smoother waters.
The Collaborative Process is commenced when both clients and their counsel sign the Participation Agreement. Allied professionals, including coaches, financial specialists, and child specialists who complete the Collaborative Team also sign the Agreement, establishing a common and cooperative foundation for the process. The hallmark of this agreement is the team’s commitment to reach resolution without litigation, or risk terminating the process and the involvement of the entire professional team in the event of impasse or breach. The clients’ understanding and respect for their shared destination promotes more meaningful communication and mutual consideration. In any major transition, the stakes are high, so the clients must be well supported in the process.
The Collaborative Team includes neutral allied professionals, trained in their area of expertise and trained in Collaborative resolution. The coach is a mental health professional who supports the clients in managing emotional and psychological challenges that can otherwise hinder clear communication and impede decision-making. The financial specialist is typically a CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) at the center of gathering and analyzing the financial data to provide scenarios that form a foundation for informed negotiations and for the clients to assess their short-term and long-term needs. The child specialist works with the clients not only to develop parenting arrangements that are appropriate for the family, but also to assist in providing real world tools to maximize the clients’ capacity for on-going success as co-parents. Each team member brings his/her specialized skills and experience to address the unique challenges that face families in transition.
Collaborative Law is a dispute resolution process during which each participant has a role in moving through the dispute. The Collaborative Team expects and embraces the struggle. By working with the clients’ own core values and long-term goals, the team helps empower the clients to reach a sustainable resolution that meets their interests as individuals and in relationship with their community. Clients are buoyed by professionals with expertise in their fields to provide the best opportunity to navigate to a mutually agreed and sustainable resolution. The goal is for the clients to be able to favorably reflect upon and feel empowered by the work they did together to reach their common destination.