My wife wants a divorce. I don’t want this, but I know I can’t stop it. She is insisting we hire a “collaborative team.” I don’t know what that means but she says her girlfriend is doing this approach and they have worked it all out and somehow she believes our families will blend together into one big unit.
I don’t want to become family with her girlfriend’s ex-husband, although maybe we have some commonality. I don’t want to be family with my wife’s girlfriend. And I don’t want our kids to think any of this is normal.
I promised to keep an open mind, so can you tell me what a collaborative team is and help me understand why I should use one?
You have come to the wrong person if you want convincing to use this process. There is a school of thought out there that if you have no easy out, parties who enter the collaborative process will see it through to completion and reach an agreement. Those who promote it swear by it and also believe it saves people a ton of money while also building the basis for a good relationship going forward.
A collaborative lawyer agrees to represent you so long as you are engaged in the collaborative process but, if you or your wife backs out of the process, that lawyer will not represent you in litigation regardless of how much you may want them to remain in the case. Instead, you would have to hire a new lawyer, bring that person up to speed on the case (so essentially paying them to understand the work that was already done) and that new lawyer can then represent you in litigation or non-collaborative mediation.
A collaborative team typically involves a lawyer for each party, a mediator, a therapist of some sort (often one for each party and one for the children), sometimes an accountant is involved to help with the financial side and/or a financial planner. Those who practice collaborative law swear it is more cost effective but suddenly instead of paying two lawyers and possibly a Guardian Ad Litem or a mediator, you are now paying as many as eight professionals to help you navigate the process — and if it fails, you have to hire all new professionals to get across the finish line.
I am not telling you don’t try it. Maybe it will help you build the kind of post-divorce relationship that will benefit your children. But if your wife is looking to mirror her girlfriend’s divorce, you don’t have to drink the KoolAid she is offering.