This is the sixth post of a serialization of Janet P. Brumley's book, Divorce Without Disaster. This post is Chapter 1, part 4 of the book.
The most commonly asked question is "What does this type of divorce save you?" People catch on to the idea that a divorce under collaborative law can save you money. That's not always the case. But a survey in American Lawyer magazine estimated the average attorney fees in a collaborative law case are about one-third the amount of a litigated divorce.
Money is only one thing you save. Pursuing divorce collaboratively can save you everything - time, your children's self-esteem, friendships, privacy, assets and whatever relationship you have left with your spouse.
Doing your divorce collaboratively is much like getting a hand-tailored suit instead of one off the rack. A litigated divorce follows a predictable pattern fitted to the needs of legal professionals, not to your needs.
A collaborative divorce, on the other hand, fits the particular needs of your family. An off-the-rack suit almost fits you, but the pants may be a little tight across the pockets and a little long. The tailored pants fit perfectly, and that makes all the difference in how you feel about them.
Of course, in the real-life version of my metaphor, the hand-tailored suit always costs more than the others. To make the metaphor work, you have to imagine the hand-tailored suit made of an attractive and durable fabric that costs no more (in fact, probably less) than the off-the-rack suit. Would you really let the salesperson talk you into buying the off-the-rack suit or would you insist on the better product?
Collaborative law removes control of the divorce process from judges, juries and attorneys and gives it to the parties, where it belongs. Throughout this book, I relate experiences and give you examples of how truly revolutionary collaborative law is, and how beneficial it is for everyone involved.
But none of this information about collaborative law is as powerful as the following exchange between two people who divorced through the collaborative process. Ken and Abbe Hitchcock were married for 18 years and have three children. What's remarkable is that both of them consented to being quoted about their divorce in the same book. Most survivors of litigated divorces can't stand to be in the same room together. In most cases, the level of suspicion is so high that if I were to ask one side to comment, the other side would naturally not want to be quoted.
"We came out of it much better than we would have if somebody had told us what we were going to do," says Ken Hitchcock. "Civility was the key. Because we had an agenda and a goal for each meeting, we were both able to be civil. It forced a lot of interaction between us because we had to make decisions on our own. We made every decision based on mutual agreement, and nobody left angry. I've been told by people who have heard about this process it's unbelievable that we were able to handle it like that."
Abbe Hitchcock adds: "You often hear about people using negative tactics during a divorce, but in my opinion, that can have a lifelong negative impact on the family and is simply unnecessary. Behaving that way would not only have reflected poorly on me, but it also would have hurt my children. I saw firsthand how hurtful a traditional, adversarial divorce was for the children of a good friend of mine, and I just wanted a process that was going to take care of me and my children, in the least hostile manner.
"Divorce is difficult for anybody," she continues, "but this process was much smoother and left us feeling we had more control of our destination. It can be very painful, but it's much better when you're sitting down together with both of your attorneys and working this out together rather than in a courtroom where somebody else is going to tell you how you're going to live your life and when you're going to see your children."
Divorce Without Disaster - Collaborative Law - About the Author
Divorce Without Disaster - Collaborative Law - Introduction
Divorce Without Disaster - What Is Collaborative Law and Why Use It?
Divorce Without Disaster - Choices of How to End the Marriage
Divorce Without Disaster - A Closer Look at Collaborative Law