I recently attended a Collaborative study session where the attorneys were discussing the benefits of Collaborative Divorces compared to litigated divorces. It reminded me of a baseball game.
In litigation, the client directs the attorney by stating: “I want this, I need this, get me this.” The client is like a catcher” in the baseball game telling the attorney “pitcher” what to pitch (pun intended). The attorney tries to pitch as suggested by the client, hoping to strike out the other spouse “batter” and win.
The other “team” has a similar strategy. The other spouse client tries to direct his/her attorney what to pitch. There may be some huddling on the field about why a particular “pitch” is warranted. Ultimately, the attorney pitcher has ethical and tactical constraints about what is “pitched.”
In this “game of baseball,” it’s the judge umpire who calls the balls and strikes, safe or out. The judge does not care about the reasoning behind why a particular pitch was thrown. The judge “calls ’em like he sees ’em’.” The whole game relies not on the catcher, the pitcher or the batter, but on this impartial party.
Does the litigation strategy work? Are the parties happy? Did they get their “day” in court? The ultimate answer is often no. Although the clients and their attorney’s felt they were running the plays, there were so many obstacles in the way preventing the achievement of their real goals.
Of course, it’s not a game at all.
In a Collaborative Divorce, while each spouses is represented by his or her own attorneys, there are also neutral financial and family specialists to move the process along. There is one team on the field working to achieve the goals of the clients. The clients work together to develop a settlement agreement (strategy) based on the interests and goals of both spouses and their family. The process is transparent and the clients (not the judge) make all decisions about a mutually agreeable result that includes parenting choices and financial security.
Then, when the clients meet on the field again– at the children’s birthday parties, graduations and weddings — there is a feeling of respect that they have worked together to meet the needs of the family.
Collaborative Divorce produces a happier and more durable outcome — a home run for the family.