By: Shelina Sayani, Collaborative Family Law
If you have made and accepted that divorce is your only choice, I'm sure this has been one of the most painful, difficult and heart wrenching decisions that you have ever had to make.
Maybe you tried counselling, marriage therapy, self-help or sought help through friends and family and you now have to figure out how you want to deal with your divorce or separation. Perhaps you have delayed this decision because you wanted to wait until the children were older, or because you were afraid of being alone, or because you did not want to hurt your partner or children, or because you were unable to put your needs first. Whatever the reason, you do not have to go through the next stages alone or without a team of professionals to help, guide and support you through the roller coaster ride that may be in store for you next.
While it may seem over whelming and terrifying- it doesn't have to be. You get to choose the best way for you, your children and your spouse. While there may be fear, anger, joy, hope - sometimes all in the same hour-these are valid feelings that we can work through within a collaborative divorce process while dealing with all the issues with compassion, respect and dignity.
Collaborative divorce gives you the choice and access to resources to help build you a team of professionals, including child specialists, divorce coaches, financial planners and specially trained family lawyers -all of who will guide you and support you while you work to create a solution that works best for you and your whole family. When it gets difficult, the professionals you have chosen will roll up their sleeves and use their collective wisdom and knowledge and skills to work through, step by step, even the seemingly most insurmountable problems without the threat of ending up in Court just because things have gotten difficult or harder than anticipated.
You could choose a traditional adversarial model and hand over the decision to a Judge, this may involve multiple court applications to get financial disclosure, interim child and/or spousal support and or parenting time. This may well cost thousands of dollars and take an emotional and financial toll on you and then statistically end up settling without ever having a trail. The traditional litigation model generally is not set up as the best place to work out the details of your separation. You may end up writing affidavits and preparing or defending applications as the Court system is set up to have a winner and a loser. When someone attacks you on paper- you have little or no choice but to fight back with just as much, if not more fire.
The collaborative divorce model is not designed that way. Usually, there is agreement very quickly with respect to interim finances, living arrangements and parenting time as we deal with these matters with respect and with the children's needs first and foremost. When there is a difference of opinion or ideas, we explore those and consult with child specialist or financial specialist if needed.
We deal with all the issues - nothing is too big or too small. We work together to get a full financial picture -whether you own a house, or you rent, a boat, a car, a business, a vacation home, a pension or you have debt and are not even sure where to start let alone figuring out what you have or don't have. We help you break it all down into manageable pieces so it's not overwhelming and you have the time and space and information to make informed good decisions that you can look back on feeling that was the best decision as you participated fully in it.
If you not ready to participate yet, then this collaborative model puts you in touch with professionals who help you get ready, on your own time, gently and compassionately while helping you get the strength to patriciate with integrity, respect and hope. Maybe your spouse is not to accept your decision- again this model gives them access to the supports and resources they need. This model is customized for each family to accommodate each family's individual needs and wishes.
The Collaborative divorce model helps you create or re-create better communication between you and you as separated co-parents-with a goal to having stronger, clearer, honest and open dialogue without the fear of winning or losing. Having you both involved in your children's lives in a positive manner has been shown as one of the best outcomes you can have for your children. While right now, in the raw early stages of your separation, this may not seem remotely possible- I have seen that it is -time and time again.
This collaborative divorce model works with you every step of the way to keep control over the outcome and not give away that choice and that power to anyone else. It is so important to have you keep that control and decision-making, with support, as you know your children and your family inside and out and you truly know what is best for them- not some stranger in a court room who has very little time to make a fully informed, in depth decision about your family.
I have only ever received positive feedback and gratitude from clients who have chosen the collaborative process when they have looked back at how their separation was handled in this manner. I have and always will lay out all the possible ways to divorce or separate-from mediation to litigation and everything in between so that each person gets the full information about each process-good and bad and limitations and possibilities of all options as that is the only way to make a full informed decision in a time where directness and clarity is so vital.
I welcome any questions you may have and would be happy to sit with you and explore your options now that you have made the decision or are in the process of making it and just want to know what you can expect next. Feel free to contact me or another type of professional on the Collaborative Divorce Vancouver team