Equitable Divorce Resolutions

The Collaborative Process

Why Collaborative Practice?

The end of your marriage does not mean the end of your family. If you have children of any age, you and your spouse will forever be their parents. 

Too often families make poorly informed financial decisions that can have a  dramatically negative impact on their future.  When couples divorce, the potential negative impact of a contentious litigated process is multiplied.  Lack of understanding about financial options and consequences, coupled with the stress of a divorce, can wreak financial and emotional havoc on a family.

I was fortunate to be among the first group of professionals trained in Collaborative Practice in Michigan.  As our local professional practice group has learned and grown together, I am even more convinced of the benefits and need for the option of Collaborative Practice to become more widely known and used by couples whose marriages are ending.

There are important financial considerations that both spouses must be aware of and understand in order to reach an informed and fair settlement.  At the same time, what may appear as financial conflict often has deeper roots that may need exploration (understanding and resolution) in order to get past the conflict.  A group of trained professionals, committed to working together in the Collaborative Process provides families with the support they need to successfully navigate the transition from one family in one home to one family in two homes.  Focus on the children is a hallmark of Collaborative Practice. 

Collaborative Practice is a better way to resolve conflict.  The safety net of having legal, financial and emotional support in the process is an invaluable resource for couples who divorce.

In the Collaborative Divorce Process, as practiced by the Collaborative Divorce Professionals of Southeast Michigan (CDPSEM), each spouse retains an attorney who provides legal information and advice throughout the process of marriage dissolution.  An interdisciplinary team consisting of Mental Health Practitioners, a Financial Neutral, and Child Specialist if there are minor children, is assembled to work with your family.   The Collaborative Process focuses on the future and puts children first.    

Why so many Professionals? 
Divorce is much more than a legal procedure. Even in the best of circumstances, the process of marriage dissolution brings up  emotional and financial issues that must be acknowledged, discussed, and understood by both spouses.  Unresolved emotional issues or financial concerns may significantly hinder your ability to reach an agreement acceptable by both you and your spouse.   Dealing with the emotional aspects of divorce is best done by professionals who are trained to do so.  Mental Health Professionals (therapists and counselors) do not provide therapy to clients, but rather help you with the emotional aspects specific to the divorce.  When there are minor children in the family,  a Child Specialist works with you and your spouse to understand your children's developmental stages and needs. A Child Specialist may also be called upon to help your family work out a parenting plan.  If indicated, the Child Specialist may meet with your child(ren) to assist in the divorce transition.

Financial Professionals- Expertise and Training

Financial specialists are instrumental in providing financial expertise that other members of the team do not have.  This includes:  financial analysis, information and education, and projected  planning scenarios.   The Collaborative Practice Institute of Michigan, has adopted the following protocols for financial specialists who work with the Collaborative Process:

At least one of the following credentials:  Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA), Certified Financial Divorce Practitioner (CFDP) or Certified Divorce Specialist (CDS). 

Completed the following training:    16 hours Collaborative Practice Training; 40 hours mediation training (recommended)

Breadth of knowledge in financial matters pertaining to families including:  Asset valuation,  Tax, Cash management and Budgeting, Investments, Insurance, Education Funding, Retirement.

Knowledge of fundmental legal concepts regarding financial issues in family law matters including:  Marital and non-marital property; Equitable distribution,  Spousal maintenance including tax consequences, Child support

For additional information about Financial Specialists providing services in the Collaborative Process, go to:

www.collaborativepracticemi.org    (Michigan)

www.collaborativepractice.com  (National)