At ICFE, we are passionate about our work to restore health and connection in marriages. However, we also know that there are some couples we see who, for a myriad of reasons, will not choose to stay together. Sometimes this is a mutual decision within a couple, but often it is not. Regardless of how the couples arrives at a divorce, it is important for couples to know there are many options for how they go about getting a divorce. Unfortunately, the assumption most have is that the “best” or even only way is for each spouse to hire an adversarial attorney and prepare to go fight in court. In Texas and most other areas, though, legal options are available designed to avoid the litigation process that is so often toxic, stressful, and even traumatic for so many families. Dr. Davenport, ICFE Owner and Director, offers consultations for individuals and couples who are considering a collaborative divorce and wishing to determine the best process for their families.
A collaborative divorce process is a legal option that is ideal for many divorcing couples, especially those who wish to have a healthy coparenting relationship post-divorce. A collaborative divorce is unique in that it is:
The professionals involved in the process must maintain confidentiality and meetings are held privately with only the professionals and clients present.
No judge, mediator, or professional will be making decisions for clients in a collaborative divorce. Clients are instead led by the collaborative team to negotiate agreements themselves based on their needs and circumstances. Even divorcing couples with high conflict can successfully complete this process, keeping important decisions for their future and their children’s future out of the hands of strangers.
The process is not focused on the past or blame for problems in the marriage, but rather on reaching agreements to meet the clients’ post-divorce needs and goals. The team then helps the clients plan for successful implementation of agreements, which may include learning new ways of communicating in order to break past patterns.
Structured to allow for honest negotiations
Guidelines for the process ensure attorneys are collaboratively sharing information to facilitate trustworthiness and transparency, and neutral professionals are trained to facilitate direct and productive client communication. The collaborative divorce process avoids strategic maneuvering and legal games that so often foster mistrust and resentment in litigation.
Divorcing parents worry deeply about how to protect their children from being negatively impacted by their divorce. A collaborative team works with parents to determine parenting schedules and establish a coparenting relationship that fosters health and support for the transitions of separation and divorce.
Experienced collaborative professional teams can tailor the process to meet the clients’ needs and budget, and guide clients to understand how to keep the cost of the process as low as possible based on their circumstances. A significant source of cost-effectiveness is the inclusion of trained neutral professionals who facilitate much of the work related to financial decisions and parenting plans.
How does a collaborative divorce work?
1- Each party hires an attorney who is trained in collaborative divorce. The parties also likely hire two neutral professionals- a financial neutral who will facilitate the process of gathering information about the elements of the couple’s estate, and a mental health professional who will facilitate the team meetings and work with the couple to develop their post-divorce parenting plan.
2- Once the Collaborative Divorce process has begun, the team works together with the clients to gather needed information, generate viable options for clients to consider, and reach a resolution on how the clients will parent their children post-divorce and how their estate will be divided.
3- The collaborative team guides the clients in implementation of their agreements, to the extent that team support is needed.
Want to learn more about collaborative divorce as an option?
For more information, schedule a consultation with Dr. Becky Davenport, an experienced neutral collaborative mental health professional. Dr. Davenport is the only mental health professional in San Antonio who is Credentialed by Collaborative Divorce Texas (collaborativedivorcetexas.com). To request a consultation appointment, you may email [email protected] or call 210-496-0100. In the consultation meeting, Dr. Davenport will provide information about the collaborative divorce process and other options, and potentially share referral information for trained and trusted collaborative attorneys.