Taking your divorce out of the courtroom: How Collaborative Law can benefit children.

Dana McKeeThe stress and emotional weight of a divorce goes without saying, but that complexity is magnified when children are involved. Children may react to a divorce in various ways – and may feel that ultimately, the main safety net of the family they’ve always known is evaporating. The strain of a divorce can also make it easy for parents to look past the emotional chaos brought on for children during divorce proceedings and beyond. It is important to consider how your children may react to your divorce and to approach divorce proceedings with empathy for the needs of children involved.

The family law practice at Brown, Goldstein & Levy specializes in Collaborative Law, a form of alternative dispute resolution that takes divorce proceedings out of a courtroom setting. Instead of leaving decisions in the hands of a judge, couples going through a Collaborative Divorce have more control over the outcome and are in a better position to end their marriage without burning bridges or leaving scorched earth behind. As such, it can be a viable option for couples seeking a divorce but need to continue a relationship for the sake of their children.

Instead of a judge, the Collaborative Divorce process involves a team of specially trained professionals designed based on the needs of the divorcing couple. Depending on their needs – financial, emotional, or legal – these professionals could include neutral mental health professionals, financial advisers, and a child custody specialist. Parties involved in a Collaborative Law proceeding sign a “participation agreement” that states all parties involved must use their best efforts to keep the case out of court. If the case proves unsuccessful, the attorneys will withdraw from the case – thereby allowing collaborative attorneys to focus on resolving the matter without an eye on future litigation. After signing the participation agreement, the parties involved participate in four-way meetings that set goals and mediate disputes systematically. The parties can take an active role in conflict resolution and leave the case feeling more in control of the outcome. It creates a “win-win” case, rather than a “fight-to-win” case.

There are several benefits to a Collaborative Law proceeding. First, the potential cost savings from avoiding litigation are high. Martindale-Nolo reports that a trial divorce proceeding that involves child-related issues can be extremely costly and last up to 19 months. Because all parties involved in a Collaborative Divorce sign a participation agreement, they freely share information with one another, rather than going through an arduous and expensive discovery process. Couples separating with high-net-worth assets may wish to consider a neutral financial expert for their Collaborative Divorce proceedings.

Ultimately, Collaborative Divorce is a process built on conflict resolution and commitment to reducing the high emotions that tend to run rampant in divorce proceedings. Children involved in these familial upheavals will benefit from the lack of anger and stress born out of a litigated divorce and will help create a smoother transition for the future. Additionally, Collaborative Law is a process that recognizes the parents as the ultimate experts in what is best for their children, allowing them full control over what decisions are best for their children’s futures.

If you have children and are contemplating a divorce, consider a Collaborative Law approach. Dana McKee has experience in handling these difficult and complex cases. She is formally trained in Collaborative Law and regularly takes continuing legal education courses in mental health issues that pertain to divorce, custody, and litigation strategies.  Her broad experience allows her to be sensitive to the family dynamics without compromising her abilities to obtain results for her clients.

Dana chairs the family law practice at Brown Goldstein & Levy, a nationally recognized firm bringing decades of passionate, effective advocacy to the fight for justice across the legal spectrum. She is dedicated to providing the highest-caliber legal services that bring each client’s voice centerstage.

If you have a divorce or custody case that needs a family law attorney with proven experience dealing with difficult and complex cases, call Dana McKee at (410) 962-1030 for a consultation.

Authored by

Dana McKee Partner