Many of my clients who have decided to pursue divorce want the process to be as fair and respectful as possible. They have heard horror stories about how awful their friend’s divorce was and they really want to avoid becoming vindictive and spiteful. They want to be mindful of how they are handling issues that may impact them now and in the future, especially if they will be raising kids together.
As you navigate into new territory with your family, you wonder what’s the best way to get divorced. Anxiety and questions begin to spin in your mind. Do you hire the same attorney? Do you try to do the divorce yourselves online? Divorce is hard enough and going through the options while hearing horror stories can make you want to get it over with as soon as possible.
So to help you slow down and weigh your options, I’ve invited two of Kansas City’s leading collaborative divorce attorneys to help explain the collaborative divorce model. Welcome attorneys, Nathalie Elliott, and Kay Madden, experts in collaborative divorce model of family law.
Q: What makes the collaborative divorce process different than other divorce options?
A: “Many things make the collaborative divorce process different. First, the parties enter into a collaborative participation agreement with their team (two attorneys, a mental health coach and financial neutral) because they want the opportunity to resolve their case in a collaborative, creative and thoughtful manner. The process often results in cost savings over contested litigation. And the parties have more control over the speed with which they seek a resolution.” ~Nathalie Elliott
“Even when things get tough, the team of six people involved in the process is committed to finding a settlement that is good for the family.” ~Kay Madden
Q: What role does the financial planner have in the collaborative divorce process?
A: “The financial (planner) neutral gathers all of the necessary financial information from both parties and prepares a comprehensive financial report of assets, debts, income, and expenses that are published to the entire team and is the basis for financial negotiations. It takes the place of expensive discovery that is necessary for contested litigation.” ~Nathalie Elliott
“ The financial neutral also assists at the six-person meetings by answering questions about the division of retirement accounts, tax ramifications, etc.” ~Kay Madden
Q: What role does the mental health professional have in the collaborative divorce process?
A: “The mental health professional (MHP) meets with each spouse individually and together. In those meetings, the MHP helps the couple articulate each of their goals for the collaborative divorce process. The MHP also assists the couple with communication in the six-person meetings, so each is being heard and being as clear as possible.” ~Kay Madden
“If the couple has minor children, the mental health professional also assists the parties with negotiating and formulating their parenting plan. This MHP can be a long-term resource as the family grows and changes post-divorce. The MHP also facilitates all meetings, prepares minutes and agendas and assists the parties should they encounter communication difficulties or challenges.” ~Nathalie Elliott
Q: Who is the collaborative divorce model great for?
A: “It’s great for just about everyone. The collaborative process can stretch to fit all types of divorce situations because it is lead by the couple and belongs to the couple. As long as both people want to settle their issues and not have a war in a courtroom, then the couple is a candidate for this process.” ~Kay Madden
“The collaborative divorce model is ideal for most families. The exception would be families dealing with domestic violence and some circumstances where one or both parties have a mental health issue that would make collaboration extremely difficult or impossible.” ~Nathalie Elliott
Q: How do I decide if this way of pursuing divorce is right for me and my family?
A: “I would suggest having a consultation with an experienced collaborative divorce lawyer to assist in making that decision.” ~Nathalie Elliott
“You can talk to one of the collaborative divorce professionals listed on the website or call me or Nathalie Elliott. Nathalie and I have practiced the collaborative process for many years and are both committed to it.” ~Kay Madden
Q: What is the best way to get ahold of you if someone wants to schedule an initial consultation?
A: For Nathalie Elliott: Call my office at 816-454-7474 or email my assistant, Janet, at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is happy to assist in scheduling a consultation at one of our three offices (Plaza, Johnson County or Briarcliff).
For Kay Madden: Call me at 816-531-2224 or e-mail me at email@example.com.
Don’t just let your questions and anxiety keep spinning around in your head. Consult with a qualified divorce professional, like Nathalie and Kay, who can help you sort out the options. Divorce attorneys who are looking out for your best interest and the best interest of your family can guide you through the legal process. And therapists who specialize in divorce recovery can help you sort through and manage the many emotions you may encounter along the way.
Marci Payne, MA, LPC offers divorce recovery counseling in Lee’s Summit MO (serving Greater Kansas City area). One of her specialties is working with men and women who are going through a divorce and want to boost their confidence about being single again. Schedule a free 15-minute phone consult to determine if she is the best counselor for you.