Today my post is a bit off track, but let me share with you the winding path that brought the information to my attention. It is my hope that at least one person reading this will benefit from it.
Back in the heydays of short sales, I handled lots of these underwater homes. I think I set records for the size and number of faxes I sent (because, you know, banks are not comfortable with email). They were a mainstay of my real estate business. And with my interest in counseling (Read all my Tony Robbins related posts) I was always talking with these folks, working with them to understand what was going on, trying to make the short selling experience as painless as I could.
And, I remain friends with most of my clients, and watched divorces happen or not happen, and then of course we all have friends who also went through some hard times in terms of a relationship. What a horrible thing to have to experience, surely there must be a better way than the typical war of attorneys that results? In a few cases I did see amicable settlements, but mostly it was war.
In my real estate marketing, I have been trolling for business from estate attorneys, financial planners, and a few months ago I started contacting some divorce attorneys to see if I could provide them with service. Through this process, I met Debbie Weecks, who is, among other things, a family law practitioner. She also served for 13 years as a volunteer on the Habitat for Humanity’s Family Selection Committee, and has numerous other accolades. You can check out her website here.
When I talked with her on the phone, she was kind enough to invite me to a CE class with a number of other family law practitioners and counselors and other interesting people, as an opportunity to meet my target audience, and she thought I might be interested in the subject matter. And I was! This was a CE class all about something relatively new to Arizona, Collaborative Family Law. This is a process by which the traditional war of the parties, via their attorneys, is replaced by a collaborative process.
A typical divorce involves the courts, a formal discovery process, gaggles of separate experts, lots of fighting and acrimony, and ultimately the court makes a decision which is sure to annoy everyone involved. A collaborative dissolution, on the other hand, does not involve the courts, disclosure is voluntary (though mandated when you decide to use this process), experts are mutually hired (rather than theirs and mine), and the parties decide the outcome together.
It sounds like it could be really, really difficult to come to a mutual outcome; though I have never done it, I’m betting it isn’t as hard as going through the regular war. Here’s a little better description of it, from http://www.collaborativedivorceinstitute.com
Divorce: the Only Moral Choice is the Collaborative Model
Statistics show that marriage is losing popularity and many couples are opting for divorce. Generations ago, divorce was perceived with stigma and while that perspective has improved, divorce is still frequently regarded as the launch into the fight of one’s life. Maybe this is one reason people are opting out of marriage altogether. Maybe marriage wouldn’t be losing ground if divorcing people began to choose a divorce that is moral and honorable in its approach.
I believe it is the responsibility of every citizen who is considering divorce to opt for a Collaborative Divorce. This choice represents a moral and ethical decision for the integrity of our society. To divorce collaboratively states that the needs of the children and their transitioning family context deserve to be treated with respect, care, loving kindness…and nothing less. This needs to become a core value for every divorcing family because the family is the foundation for our society at large.
Collaborative Divorce is a means for uncoupling that utilizes an interdisciplinary team of professionals; each trained and skilled in providing resolution and closure to the legal, emotional and financial dimension inherent in every divorce. The divorcing couple is cocooned within the safety net of their professional team and become empowered to respectfully gather and share necessary information,; brainstorm all the possible options in transitioning their assets and debts; and, respectfully make agreements each can live with as they move forward in a two-household family. They work together with their team to listen to the voice of their kids and hold their children’s concerns at the forefront.
I have been practicing in this model for more than a decade and I am pretty passionate about the notion that our society needs to move into an honorable point of view that Collaborative Divorce is organically the only way for a family to make a life-altering transition that truly serves the greater good.
If you or someone you know is considering a divorce, please learn more about Collaborative Divorce and take the high-minded path for the good of the family and for the good of society. It is your moral responsibility to do so. If you are a divorce professional (legal, mental health, or financial), please take a Collaborative Divorce Full Team Training.
I was impressed with the people I met at the CE class, and the material was fascinating to me. It was really for attorneys, though, so I won’t be getting any real estate continuing education credit for it.