MIAMI -- Spring is frequently a season of renewal, personal re-evaluation, and introspection.
From something as simple as cleaning the garage as part of a “Spring Cleaning” initiative to a more complex analysis of personal situations, this season frequently brings personal and professional changes.
“One area of change involves how families proceed with what is usually a traumatic event – divorce,” said Allison Hockman, President of the Collaborative Family Law Institute, (www.collaborativefamlaw.com) an organization that brings civility, a focus on mutual outcomes, and a concern for children to divorce proceedings. “Over the years, we’ve noticed that spring is a time when many husbands and wives consider an alternative to litigated divorce proceedings that financially and emotionally ruin families.
“The spring-time perspective of renewal gives couples a different way of looking at the divorce process that minimizes arguing and posturing for a long and drawn out legal battle. They seem more open to this collaborative process that can create healthy dynamics for the future.”
Based in Miami, this organization offers a voluntary process in which couples, with the assistance of collaboratively-trained professionals, work toward reaching a settlement on fair and equitable terms without the financial and emotional cost that often accompanies litigation. Through the Collaborative Process, the parties choose to resolve the issues in their dissolution in a mutually beneficial way, outside of the court system. In a Collaborative Divorce, the parties are empowered to make their own decisions and customize the terms of an agreement based upon their particular needs and interests.
“When couples marry, divorce is the last thing on their minds,” added Hockman. “But with roughly 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce, it is an unfortunate reality of our times. The problem is that once the process starts couples embark on a ‘winner-take-all’ strategy fueled by hatred, anger, and greed.
“The features of our process include collaboration, compassion, affordability, and cooperation, terms that are rarely associated with divorce.”
At the core of the process is a team of lawyers, financial consultants, and mental health professionals. In addition to structuring an equitable and fair settlement, the team also helps the parties develop a post-divorce family plan that focuses on protecting children from the effects of a nasty divorce. The collaborative practice helps reset the dialogue, resulting in parents being able to co-parent in the future.
“Children are frequently used as bargaining chips in most divorces,” said Jerome Poliacoff, PhD. (mental health professional). “They are placed in the middle of a situation that can result in long-lasting psychological and developmental problems. One of our goals is to prevent this and to work toward preserving the family unit after the divorce.”
The collaborative process is a distinct departure from the more traditional strategies that include:
1. Do It Yourself with the local clerk of the courts
2. Litigation which is built on protecting the interests of one spouse while ignoring the other’s needs
3. Mediation, a divorce process as a step in litigated, collaborative or do-it-yourself divorce
“The family-friendly process is more peaceful and private,” added Poliakoff. “It allows parents to partner in the upbringing of their child. The bottom line is that they treat each other with respect while acknowledging that they shouldn’t be married.”
The advantages of a collaborative divorce include:
• Control of outcomes
• Better use of resources (money, time, energy)
“We practice a better way to divorce,” said Poliakoff. “Many families have benefited from our process that stresses civility while eliminating the anger during a difficult time. And, over the years it is interesting that inquiries come during the spring, a time of renewal.”