When parties divorce, they oftentimes think that their troubles are over. What they really may find out is that their troubles might just be starting.
Without proper planning and coordination, the results of a divorce may create more issues post-divorce than the parties experienced during their marriage.
If a couple chooses to divorce using the traditional litigation model, the ultimate decisions affecting their future may be determined by the Court with potentially profound consequences.
In contrast, choosing the Collaborative Divorce process enables the parties to work in concert to avoid a life-altering negative outcome. In addition, this process allows the parties to be creative in solving their issues and, therefore, more in control of their future.
One of the greatest benefits of Collaborative Divorce is that it allows parents to be the ones to make decisions affecting their children, including personally-designed custody plans. The process helps define the role of each parent, allowing the parents to redefine Court-mandated traditional custody-visitation models. A plan can be tailored to the parents’ lifestyles and for the family’s unique needs. For example, they may choose not to be confined to a rigid schedule of visitation every other weekend and one day during the week for dinner, or alternating holiday and school vacation periods.
Participating in the Collaborative Process allows the parties to be inventive in solving issues concerning spousal support, child support and the equitable distribution of the marital assets as well as anything else pertinent to the needs of the family.
You may be wondering about the parameters of what can be actually negotiated in this innovative Collaborative Process. In my experience, no idea is too unusual, as long as it is soundly proposed to truly meet the needs of the entire family. The beauty of the process is that the parties are not constrained by the law (even though it is floating out there), and they are free to ultimately decide what works for them, and, most importantly, for their children.
Examples of creative custody plans include:
- Weekly living arrangements with the child or children living with each of the parents in each other’s home on an alternate week basis;
- Having the child or children remain in the marital residence with the parents alternating living with the child or children on an alternating week basis;
- Splitting the week at each of the parent’s homes (assuming that the parents live in the same school district); or
- Anything else that can work for the parties.
Remember, by participating in this process, the divorcing parties can effectively avoid the strict interpretation of the law and the Court’s application of it. Thinking “Outside the Box” has no limits other than the family’s own ingenuity.