Archive for the ‘Collaborative Law’ Category

Collaborative Divorce: Myths and Truths

April 3rd, 2016 by Wanzer Edwards

If you are considering divorce you are probably wondering about your options.  If you do not necessarily want to ask a judge to make all the important decisions about your children and property, you are likely doing some research on alternatives to going to court.  The Collaborative divorce process may have popped up in your research and for good reason.  The popularity of Collaborative divorce is growing nationally and even internationally.  Divorcing people are turning to this process where everyone agrees not to go to court because it provides them with a way to create a tailored divorce settlement using a team of professionals focused on the healthy transition of the family.

As you consider Collaborative divorce along with your other options, let’s get real about what Collaborative divorce is and what it is not.  Exploring some of the myths and truths of Collaborative divorce will help you decide if this is the right process for your family.

 

Collaborative divorce is better for kids. Truth!  Many people choose the Collaborative divorce process because they want to prioritize being good co-parents at the conclusion of the divorce process.  The Collaborative divorce process is designed to get co-parents talking about the needs and interests of their children.  Too often the needs of children are lost in the shuffle of parent-focused arguments when parents go to court.  In Collaborative divorce, specially trained lawyers, child specialists and divorce coaches help parent to focus on the well-being of their children through the divorce process and beyond.  The settlement solutions reached during the Collaborative divorce process are generally more specific and tailored toward the healthy transition of the whole family.

 

Collaborative divorce is more expensive because of the additional team members. Myth! It may seem at first blush that expanding the divorce team from just two lawyers to one coach, two lawyers and a financial professional or child specialist would dramatically increase the cost.  Often the opposite is true.  With each professional working in his or her area of expertise, time and resources are spent more efficiently.  This allows the lawyers, who are usually billing at the highest rates, to spend less overall time on the case.  In addition, going to court is extremely expensive due to the extensive information gathering and preparation needed to make effective arguments to a judge.  If that extra work is removed from the process and replaced with a solutions-based team, both the cost and time expended tend to decrease.  Each case is unique, but overall Collaborative cases tend to be faster and less expensive than traditional litigation.

 

Collaborative divorce is nicer, kinder and happier. Truth and Myth!  Trying to defeat your co-parent in court is destructive to the future co-parenting relationship.  That means a process focused on successful co-parenting – like the Collaborative process – is often nicer and kinder by definition.  It would be inaccurate to expect, however, that divorce is going to be easy in any process.  The difficult emotions related to the end of a marriage and the transition of a family will still be present.  Don’t choose the Collaborative process because you believe it will eliminate the possibility that your spouse will be hurt or angry.  Those emotions will still be present, but will likely be addressed and dealt with in a more direct and effective way using expertise of the experienced and trained team members.

Your choice of a divorce process has a big impact on the tone and outcome.  Collaborative divorce offers some beneficial options that do not exist in traditional litigation.  To learn more visit www.collaborative-divorce.org.

Choosing An Attorney

September 9th, 2014 by Wanzer Edwards

So you think you may be heading down the path of a divorce. Or maybe it hit you like a ton of bricks – you just got served with papers from your spouse. Your spouse has an attorney, so you probably need one too, but who?

Selecting your attorney is an important choice, and one that should not be taken lightly. Your attorney is going to be the person helping to guide you through one of the most painful transitions you may face. He or she needs to know what they’re doing and be able to advise you of all your options, rights and responsibilities.

First, ask your friends and family. The very best referrals are often firsthand from someone who has been through what you’re going through. After you have some options, check them out online to ensure that the attorneys you are considering practice family law exclusively, or at least as one-half of their practice.

Next, you need to decide what kind of case you want to have. Do you actually want to go to court? Then it’s important to look at the attorney’s website and speak with him or her about their trial experience. If they have never been in the courtroom, they may not be the best choice for you. If you want to try to avoid court at all costs but the attorney’s website is filled with words and themes about fighting for their clients, winning at all costs, or how “tough” he or she may be, then that may not be the best choice for you either. Do you have a specific desire to mediate or divorce using Collaborative Law? Be sure that the attorney you choose is trained to offer you those practice options and has the credentials to prove it.

Finally, you need to meet with your attorney and see if your personalities mesh. Consider it an interview for a legal expert that you want to hire. Your attorney should be like a good friend – someone who is not afraid to give you hard news and play devil’s advocate with you. Your attorney’s job is not to tell you yes, but to inform you of what your very best and very worst outcomes may be, and then to guide you toward a conclusion that works for your family. If he or she doesn’t warn you of the worst thing that could happen if you go to court, for example, keep looking.

If you are looking for an attorney to handle your case and are not sure where to start, set up a consultation with one of the family law attorneys at Wanzer Edwards.

But I’m Not Crazy…..

June 10th, 2014 by Wanzer Edwards

There is no doubt that the divorce process is painful and emotionally difficult. Even an amicable divorce marks the end of a marriage that was once full of promise and love. As the old song says: breaking up is hard to do.

Enter the divorce coach. The role of a coach is to assist an individual who is experiencing the divorce process and to help with certain non-legal aspects of the process. Specifically, the divorce coach acts as a sounding board for emotional concerns, fears and pain. He or she provides suggestions on effective communication for negotiation and future co-parenting and he or she addresses any other emotional or non legal aspects of the process.

By the way……the divorce coach is a trained mental health professional.

Your acceptance of the need for a divorce coach might have just evaporated as you thought, “But I don’t need therapy” or “I’m not crazy”. Both statements are likely true. The divorce coach does not provide therapy and certainly cannot assist the severely mentally ill. But consider that a mental health professional has significant training and experience in human emotions, family structures and communication.

Just as you might employ the services of a career coach if you found yourself unemployed, using the services of a divorce coach when you are going through the difficulty of divorce is simply good self care. It is also smart business. Your divorce attorney, while hopefully kind and willing to listen, is not a trained communication or emotions specialist. Your attorney has special training to get you through the legal aspects of you divorce. You certainly need that. But divorce is much more than a legal process. Gwyneth Paltrow recently described it as “uncoupling”. There is a definite emotional aspect to it that deserves your attention and with which you may need assistance. The time you spend working with a divorce coach is time not spent airing your emotional issues to your attorney who is not trained to assist with those issues and whose billable rate is not conducive to spending lots of time listening to your valid pain and hurt.

To get a referral to a divorce coach, start by asking your attorney. You can also visit www.collaborative–divorce.org for a list of trained coaches.

He Cheated On Me. Now What?

March 1st, 2014 by Wanzer Edwards

Infidelity during a marriage is one of the most difficult issues to tackle and often results in divorce. Whether it’s a physical affair, an emotional affair or an online relationship, it still really hurts and completely erodes any trust in a marriage. In the old days of fault-based divorce, infidelity was one of the legal reasons a person could seek a divorce. Now that Indiana and most states are “no fault” divorce states, neither spouse needs to prove the reason that the marriage is ending. As a result, the cause of the end of the marriage is no longer part of the legal process – even if the cause is cheating.

It is normal to experience a range of emotions when you learn that your spouse has been unfaithful. The anger and hurt and even a longing for revenge are normal reactions. But, these normal emotions and reactions are best worked through with a trusted therapist. Indiana, like many states, does not punish a cheating spouse in the division of marital property. Unlike the movies where the victim gets to “take him for everything he has” so he can “pay for what he’s done”, in Indiana, there is no “punishment” that the betrayed spouse can ask for from the Court. While your attorney will empathize with your situation, in most cases, you will hear the difficult news that the infidelity, which led to the end of the marriage will generally not impact how the marital property is divided.

In rare circumstances, when an unfaithful spouse has spent significant financial resources on “the other woman”, it may be possible to deduct that amount from the unfaithful spouse’s portion of the marital property. Spending money on extramarital activities, such as dinners, presents, weekend trips and even dating sites is what is known as “dissipation of marital assets”. This money was part of the marital estate and was not spent in furtherance of the marriage and/or household. Depending on the amount and ability to prove what was spent and by whom, your attorney can argue that this was either an early distribution of assets to the spouse who spent the money or could be a reason for the spouse who did not stray to receive more assets from the marital estate to offset what has been used. Talk with your attorney about whether this type of argument is cost effective in your divorce.

The other situation where an affair could be relevant is in divorce situations involving custody. If the other man or woman is someone who has been or will be around the children, he or she should be someone who is appropriate to be around them. Most spouses feel that – for example – the other woman should never be around the children; however, unless she has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, is on the sex offender registry, or has a conviction involving domestic violence or violence against children, the other woman is generally going to be okay to be around the kids. While this list is certainly not all-inclusive, the bottom line is that it has to be something significant to warrant an order excluding that person from being around the children.

Since the sting of the affair can be very painful, your attorney should suggest a support group, divorce coach or therapist to help you with the emotional aspects of your divorce issues. This person is far better equipped than your attorney to help you work through these emotions, and at usually a much lower cost. Contact the attorneys of Wanzer Edwards, PC to help you surround yourself with the professional support you need during this time.