FAQs

Collaborative Law FAQs

Collaborative Law | Collaborative Divorce Team Members | Family Law | Estate & Business | Collaborative Lawyer | Neutral Financial Specialists | Divorce Coaches | Child Specialists

What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce is a way for couples to go through the divorce process in a more amicable way, without going to court. Once a couple has established that Collaborative Divorce is right for them, a team is assembled including an attorney for each partner, neutral financial advisors, divorce coaches, and other professionals, as needed. The Collaborative Divorce Team will help the couple navigate the process of divorce as they begin their new separate chapters. Learn more about the benefits of Collaborative Divorce.

Who are the Collaborative Law Professionals (CLP)?

Collaborative Law Professionals (CLP) is a group of attorneys, financial advisors, family therapists, divorce coaches, and related professionals who specialize in working with divorcing couples to assure a mutually satisfying conclusion to their relationship. We are members of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP). Find a Collaborative Law Professional in Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester Counties, Philadelphia, and the surrounding areas.

What is the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP)?

The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) is an organization committed to fostering professional excellence in conflict resolution through Collaborative Practice. There are more than 10,000 professionals trained in Collaborative Practice in the United States and over 200 Collaborative Practice groups around the world. To learn more about the IACP, please visit their website: www.collaborativepractice.com.

Is Collaborative Divorce right for us?
Collaborative Divorce is based on mutual respect, positive solutions in resolving conflict, and a desire to stay out of court litigation. If you and your partner choose open dialogue and a willingness to work together toward a civil conclusion to your partnership, then Collaborative Divorce is a good choice. In addition, if children are involved, Collaborative Divorce is a much less harmful process than traditional litigation involving the court system. If you’re interested in Collaborative Divorce, schedule your free 30-minute consultation today.
Who isn’t Collaborative Divorce right for?

Collaborative Divorce is not right for everyone. In a situation involving domestic abuse, for example, Collaborative Divorce would not necessarily be recommended. Every situation is unique and our team of caring professionals can help you decide which route is best for your specific circumstances. If you’re unsure of whether Collaborative Divorce is a good fit for your situation, contact us today for a no-obligation free 30-minute consultation.

What is the difference between Collaborative Divorce and mediation?

Though there are similarities between Collaborative Divorce and Mediation, such as open dialogue, the biggest difference is that a mediator cannot give legal advice and must stay neutral. Mediators can help with negotiations towards a settlement, but the divorce process and documents must still go through attorneys for review of the agreement and the filing of legal documents before a final divorce decree can be granted.

When you choose Collaborative Divorce, you have more support at the table. Your team of attorneys, financial consultant, and divorce coach are with you from the beginning, and involved in the entire process. Financial information is automatically exchanged and conducted in a more secure process than with mediation because the attorneys and financial consultant are overseeing documents. Mediation doesn’t give you the same type of immediate support. A mediator can only help you reach an agreement; they can’t oversee documents, give legal or financial advice or move assets after the agreement is complete. Learn more about the difference between Collaborative Divorce and Mediation.

What is the difference between Collaborative Divorce and litigated divorce?

The main difference between Collaborative Divorce and conventional divorce is the signed agreement by each spouse and their attorney pledging to stay out of court. With litigated divorce, attorneys represent their client in court and a judge decides the case. With Collaborative Divorce, you and your partner are in control of the process based on a desire to come to a settlement and end the union in a dignified and mutually respectful manner. For more information on the difference between Collaborative Divorce and Traditional Litigation.

How do we get started with collaborative divorce?

We are happy to help you get started. When you contact one of our professionals, we will explain the process in detail, and you and your spouse will each choose an attorney who you will meet with in private to discuss your individual needs and concerns. After that, you and your spouse will meet in face-to-face sessions with your two attorneys, the financial consultants and divorce coach to reach a settlement without going to court. If you are interested in learning more, schedule a free 30-minute consultation today.

What are the costs involved with a Collaborative Divorce?

It can be difficult to determine the exact cost of a Collaborative Divorce without knowing more about the unique situation. However, Collaborative Divorce is typically significantly less expensive than Traditional Litigation. To learn more about the cost of collaborative divorce visit our Financial Benefits of Collaborative Divorce page.

Collaborative Divorce Team FAQs

Collaborative Law | Collaborative Divorce Team Members | Family Law | Estate & Business | Collaborative Lawyer | Neutral Financial Specialists | Divorce Coaches | Child Specialists

What is the attorney’s role in collaborative divorce?

With Collaborative Divorce, you and your partner each have your own attorney who is responsible for supporting and guiding you through legal issues, settlement options, and divorce agreements. Their job is to work collaboratively with each other and both partners to reach an agreement. The attorney will assist you in voicing your needs and concerns effectively. Finally, if the Collaborative Divorce process ends, your collaborative attorneys must withdraw from the case. Connect with our CLP Member attorneys in Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester Counties, Philadelphia, and the surrounding areas.

What is a financial specialists role in collaborative divorce?

The financial advisor (sometimes called a financial neutral) plays a neutral role, working with both parties to come to a mutually agreeable settlement. They are there to help educate you and your partner about financial choices and consequences of various settlement options, gather information, manage financial expectations, discuss taxes, cash flow, budgets, financial planning, and consult with each attorney. The financial neutral also helps both spouses prepare for life after the divorce. Connect with our CLP Member Financial Specialists in Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester Counties, Philadelphia, and the surrounding areas.

What is the role of the divorce coach?
Divorce is difficult and often fraught with tension. The divorce coach meets with both partners before the first team meeting, helping to manage emotions, conflicts, and hostilities. They are there for every meeting and assist in keeping the process on track in a comfortable and supportive atmosphere. It is the divorce coach’s role to help both parties and remain neutral, keeping interactions respectful rather than emotional. Many are trained therapists who can provide guidance for the future to avoid further issues between the parties. Connect with our CLP Member Divorce Coaches in Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester Counties, Philadelphia, and the surrounding areas.
What is the role of the child specialist?
Divorce is a stressful time for all, and children are often caught in the middle. In Collaborative Divorce, the Child Specialist is a licensed mental health professional trained and experienced in working with parents and children who are going through a divorce and/or other child custody and parenting issues. The Child Specialist helps each partner stay focused on the needs and emotions of any children involved. Connect with our CLP Member Child Specialists in Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester Counties, Philadelphia, and the surrounding areas.
Who are the other team members?

The primary team members in the Collaborative Divorce process are attorneys, financial advisors and divorce coaches. Other professionals can be called in on an as needed basis. These include family relations and child specialists, appraisers, mortgage brokers or vocational experts. Each skilled professional applies their expertise to the collaborative process on behalf of each spouse toward a positive outcome. Contact Collaborative Law Professionals.

Pennsylvania
Divorce & Family Law FAQs

Collaborative Law | Collaborative Divorce Team Members | Family Law | Estate & Business | Collaborative Lawyer | Neutral Financial Specialists | Divorce Coaches | Child Specialists

What kind of income is used to determine child support?

Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines contain a detailed explanation of what constitutes as income for child support purposes. In addition to salary, gross income may include things such as bonuses, commissions, interest, rent, lottery winnings, income tax refunds, and many others. In situations where a parent owns their own business or holds an executive position that includes things like stock options or deferred income, may be taken into consideration and counted as a financial source of income. If you are and your spouse are willing to fully disclose, share and cooperatively evaluate all financial information, such as tax returns, account statements, stock options and compensation agreements then you may be able to avoid the traditional court process and work with Collaborative Law Professionals of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Learn more about collaborative law mediation strategies and the collaborative approach toward child support.

How can Collaborative Practice assist with parenting plans and child custody modifications?

My ex- and I haven’t talked together about our children since the court’s custody decision last year. We just text. It’s too hard. Things aren’t working with this schedule. I need to go back to court. 

Returning to court will result in a new custody order, however, the modifications you obtain may not be the best solution to your concerns and it may not change the emotional and commutation struggles that you are having with your co-parent. Already strained relationships between parents can be further eroded in the lengthy and confrontational litigation process. Children for sure suffer. The Collaborative Process will create opportunities, in a confidential setting, for you and the other parent to develop clear understandings of what you need from each other to parent your children. Our lawyers and child specialists have been trained in the collaborative process and trained in mediation designed specifically for these topics. We will help you explore what gets in the way of effective coparenting and identify what you want most for your children. In an environment that acknowledges and supports the critical role each parent has in the lives of your children, we will accomplish meeting your goals. Learn more about PA family law and the collaborative approach toward child custody modifications.

In Pennsylvania, is property division in a divorce always 50/50?

No. In the state of Pennsylvania property division is not always 50/50. If you go to court to discuss property division, the court will apportion the assets and debts based on the thirteen factors in the law. This may or may not result in a 50/50 division. It’s up to the court to make that determination. In a Collaborative Divorce you and your spouse will remain in control of the division of assets and debts. The collaborative team includes access to lawyers and financial specialists trained in cooperative mediation technique and will help you understand the overall picture created by your family’s financial situation, evaluate tax implications of a proposed financial division and achieve a desired financial settlement for each of you that considers your shared values. Learn more about divorce law in Pennsylvania and how the collaborative process can help you determine division of property and assets by using your goals and your family’s specific needs.

Pennsylvania
Estate & Business Planning FAQs

Collaborative Law | Collaborative Divorce Team Members | Family Law | Estate & Business | Collaborative Lawyer | Neutral Financial Specialists | Divorce Coaches | Child Specialists

How can the Collaborative Team help my family-owned business in transition?
Our Collaborative Team, including a lawyer for each party, a neutral Financial Specialist, and a Divorce Coach, can guide your family members during a leadership transition. The knowledge and training of the Collaborative Team can help your family:

  • avoid unpleasant, time-consuming court proceedings;
  • maintain control over the process and decisions;
  • resolve concerns outside of court, in a private and confidential setting, minimizing the emotional toll and cost.

Learn more about PA family law and the collaborative approach toward estate and business planning.

How can a collaborative approach help me after the death of a loved one?

Many families face some conflict after the death of a loved one and can benefit from the Collaborative Team’s assistance in resolving disagreements about the distribution of funds or the receipt of cherished family mementos. Your Collaborative Team can guide you in open discussions among family members, minimizing the time and stress that can occur when the traditional court process is used to resolve the conflict.   The Collaborative Process allows family members to gain the tools needed to develop productive patterns of communication and move from blame to solutions and cooperation.
Learn about the many benefits of the practice of Collaborative Law is an alternative to the traditional court process

How can the Collaborative Team help me with my will and other estate planning documents?

The preparation of a will, a power of attorney or a living will can sometimes present difficult choices. For example, if you hesitate to name one child over another and worry that a child may feel hurt by your choices, you can resolve these issues with the help of our Collaborative Team.

Our Collaborative Team Members, including LawyersFinancial Specialists and Divorce Coaches, are trained to assist you in communicating with your family members in private, with the opportunity:

  • to manage emotional reactivity;
  • to promote healthy, respectful communication;
  • to promote and strengthen family functioning and relationships; and
  • to reach a consensus that will provide you with peace of mind.

To schedule a confidential consultation and learn more, contact a professional in Collaborative Law Professionals of Southeastern Pennsylvania .

Pennsylvania
Collaborative Lawyer FAQs

Collaborative Law | Collaborative Divorce Team Members | Family Law | Estate & Business | Collaborative Lawyer | Neutral Financial Specialists | Divorce Coaches | Child Specialists

Does my obligation to pay child support extend to having to pay for college expenses?

No. There is no legal requirement in Pennsylvania for a parent to contribute to college expenses of their children. That does not mean that parents do not find themselves at odds over whether they should do so. Because Pennsylvania law does not require a parent to contribute to college expenses, the traditional court process is not available to resolve this matter.

In the Collaborative Process, parents can determine how their children’s post-high school education and training will be paid and whether an agreement on these issues should become a legally enforceable obligation. The Collaborative Team, which may include a Financial Specialist, works together with both parents to discuss and develop a comprehensive approach to provide for their children’s post-high school education and training, which may include contributions by the children such as loans, grants, scholarships and savings. In this way, parents are also better able to save for their financial future.

My kids are 8 and 10. They tell me they want nothing to do with their mom. They refuse to take her calls or see her. The court won’t make them see their mom. Right?

The court’s job is to make decisions that are in a child’s best interest. The court is going to want to understand the reason a child has decided not to have contact with a parent. The court may order evaluations/assessments of your children and each parent to determine what professional intervention will encourage and promote reestablishing the children’s relationship with their mom. You should not count on the court supporting the children’s decision to have nothing to do with their mom. With the cost of litigation and evaluations, you should each conservatively expect to invest $30,000 to $50,000 or more. That’s upwards of $100,000 and a year or two before a court decision is made. And then, there’s always the possibility of an appeal, more money and more time.

The Collaborative Process and Team offer another possibility and opportunity. Collaborative Lawyers will educate and advise you on the points of law while remaining committed to resolve the case out-of-court. A Child Specialist is trained in child development, expected behaviors and common struggles children experience when divorce results in a changed family system. The Child Specialist will give the children a voice, help to strengthen the children’s relationship with their mom and develop hope. The Divorce Coach will help you and the mom manage emotions, identify your own emotional struggles that may be contributing to this situation and help you focus on the future for each of you and your children. Our Collaborative Team of Professionals are here to help. Contact Collaborative Law Professionals of Southeastern Pennsylvania to learn more!

My spouse is likely to receive a large share of our marital property. Will I still have to pay alimony?

Even in the case where a financially dependent spouse receives a large share of the marital property, alimony may still be appropriate in order for the financially dependent spouse to be able to pay for their reasonable needs. In these situations, one spouse generally has far greater income than the other party or has non-marital property of substantial worth.

In the Collaborative Process, each spouse and their Collaborative Lawyers are able to call in a Financial Specialist whose role in the Collaborative Team is to assist the spouses and their Collaborative Lawyers to:

  • assess the income and expenses of each spouse;
  • evaluate the nature and extent of the marital property;
  • consider the financial realities of the separation and divorce;
  • help structure the distribution of marital property, alimony and child support;
  • support the development of practical options and a structure for the distribution of property and payment of debts, alimony and child support, if applicable;
  • educate each spouse on the financial implications of each option; and
  • empower each spouse to make sound financial decisions for the short and long-term.

To schedule a confidential consultation and learn more, contact a professional with Collaborative Law Professionals of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania
Financial Specialists FAQs

Collaborative Law | Collaborative Divorce Team Members | Family Law | Estate & Business | Collaborative Lawyer | Neutral Financial Specialists | Divorce Coaches | Child Specialists

What are the common financial pitfalls of divorce?

There are many pitfalls, but three common mistakes come to mind:

  1. Lack of information. Too often, couples fail to do their financial homework when going through divorce. It is absolutely critical to know what you have AND know what you need.
  2. Neglecting to consider the future effects of a financial settlement. Being short-sighted and ignoring the long-term implications of a proposed settlement agreement can be a recipe for disaster. Sometimes what appears to be reasonable at face value is far from practical.
  3. Failure to separate emotions from finances. Too many times couples spend countless hours arguing over their interpretation of what is “fair”. In their quest for winning the battle, they lose the war by lining the pockets of the professionals they engaged instead of coming to some middle ground and keeping the money for themselves. Allowing emotions to influence your financial decisions can lead to poor choices and have long term implications. Keeping your emotions in check will save you both time and money, and you may even preserve your dignity along the way!

Learn about the many benefits of the practice of Collaborative Law is an alternative to the traditional court process.   

Can I receive a portion of my ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits?

Possibly – depending on your circumstances.

Generally, the most you can expect to receive is one-half of your former spouse’s benefit. However, age, length of marriage, and current marital status all play a part in determining whether you would qualify.

Connect with our CLP Member Financial Specialists in Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester Counties, Philadelphia, and the surrounding areas.

Does it matter how assets are divided– aren’t all assets the same?

No. All assets are NOT the same.

  1. Assets can be taxed very differently. Some retirement assets are taxed as ordinary income when withdrawn, while others can be withdrawn completely tax-free. Non-retirement assets can also be taxed differently. While some may not be taxed at all, others may have built-in capital gains that will be taxed when sold.
  2. Some assets are more easily converted to cash than others. Retirement plans, for example, typically cannot be withdrawn prior to age 59 ½ without penalty and taxes. Houses are another example of an asset that cannot be easily converted to cash. Sure you can always tap into the equity of a home through a loan, but don’t count on that. Banks aren’t too keen on lending money if you are in financial distress.

To schedule a confidential consultation and learn more, contact a professional with Collaborative Law Professionals of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

 

Pennsylvania
Divorce Coach FAQs

Collaborative Law | Collaborative Divorce Team Members | Family Law | Estate & Business | Collaborative Lawyer | Neutral Financial Specialists | Divorce Coaches | Child Specialists

Divorce is going to cost us a lot of money. Can we save money and eliminate the Coach?

I know everyone wants more money! Right? And, this thing, the “cost” — We encourage you to consider that cost may mean more than just dollars and cents. It may also mean the emotional and psychological expense to you and your family. For many, divorce is an unwanted and horrific experience. For others, everything about the separation and divorce seems rather cordial until a word is used or someone recalls a particular event. Suddenly and without warning, the atmosphere changes and feelings run high.  A Divorce Coach can help you and your spouse or partner manage these emotions, allowing you to focus and reach resolutions on matters that are most important to each of you. The amount of time you spend with a Divorce Coach depends upon how well you communicate and problem solve. The Divorce Coach helps you move beyond hurts and disappointments and plan for the future. Whether discussing custody, parenting plans, property division, estate planning or business succession, the Divorce Coach can help economize your time, money and emotional capital. Skills and tools learned with the Divorce Coach can give you a foundation for developing more satisfying resolutions to concerns that will inevitably come up down the road. Connect with our CLP Member Divorce Coaches in Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester Counties, Philadelphia, and the surrounding areas.

How can a Divorce Coach help if we don’t communicate now?

We don’t listen or talk to each other.

That’s a great question! In thinking about this, first ask yourself, “Do you wish this could be different?” If your answer is yes, a Divorce Coach can help.

Developing new ways to let your spouse know how you feel, what fears and concerns you have and what you need may require some new skills.

Understanding what gets in the way of having meaningful conversations and then changing that pattern is the beginning to effective communication and problem solving. The Divorce Coach can help both of you learn the communication skills you need in order to have a better understanding of one another’s experience and then more effectively work together.

The Divorce Coach, along with the Collaborative Team, will help structure improved communication with one another. You each will have a better understanding of the real issues and concerns. Productive, respectful and healthy communication is inevitable. We can help!

Connect with our CLP Member Divorce Coaches in Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester Counties, Philadelphia, and the surrounding areas.

Is a Divorce Coach the same as a Therapist?

My partner does not feel like we need a therapist.

It sounds like your partner has concerns that a Divorce Coach will be doing therapy. While a Divorce Coach, in the Collaborative Process, is a licensed mental health professional, he or she is not going to be doing therapy.

Instead, a Divorce Coach will help you and your partner manage emotions that may impact the ability to focus on solutions rather than blame and revenge. Emotions may range from fear, anger, and worry to resentment, disappointment and grief. The Coach will help manage these emotions, freeing you to problem solve, to develop meaningful solutions and to move on with your life.

Connect with our CLP Member Divorce Coaches in Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester Counties, Philadelphia, and the surrounding areas.

Pennsylvania
Child Specialist FAQs

Collaborative Law | Collaborative Divorce Team Members | Family Law | Estate & Business | Collaborative Lawyer | Neutral Financial Specialists | Divorce Coaches | Child Specialists

What is a Child Specialists role?

I talk to my children all of the time, we have great communication. Why would we need a child specialist if we already talk?

When parents separate and decide to divorce, the family that the children have come to know begins to feel and look differently.  As this restructuring occurs, children experience a great deal of uncertainty, worry and have a strong need to remain loved and connected to both of their parents.  Not wanting to jeopardize their relationship with their parents, children will choose not to talk about what worries them, what they fear most, what they need and what they wish for.  Their reluctance and decision not to share only heightens their worries and fears.  The Child Specialist can help the children articulate their thoughts and express them to their parents.  This information is also shared with the Collaborative Team.  Working together, parents are better able to make child-centered decisions for their children.

Connect with our CLP Member Child Specialists in Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester Counties, Philadelphia, and the surrounding areas.

Is a Child Specialist the same as a Therapist?

Our son already has a therapist. Why do we need a child specialist? He already has one.

The role of a therapist and Child Specialist differ in many ways. A therapist may work with a child to develop a different perspective and understanding of a situation, to develop insight, to effect desired behavioral changes or to provide education.  The Child Specialist is not the child’s therapist.  Instead, the Child Specialist serves as the child’s advocate by:

  • hearing the child’s perspective;
  • helping the child to express his worries, fears, needs and desires to his parents;
  • removing potential loyalty alliances the child may be experiencing when family restructuring occurs.

The Child Specialist also provides information to the parents and the Collaborative Team so that parents can make child-centered decisions while the family takes on a new form.

Connect with our CLP Member Child Specialists in Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester Counties, Philadelphia, and the surrounding areas.