June 6, 2017

You want to divorce your spouse and have an agreement about your children and your finances with a minimum amount of conflict and expenditure of resources. Does this sound like you?
If so, it will make good sense for you and perhaps also your spouse to attend a process meeting.
What is a process meeting?
A process meeting is an opportunity to meet with a professional such as a collaboratively and mediation trained attorney, divorce coach or financial neutral. Here is an example.
You contact a divorce attorney who is a working mediator and a collaboratively trained divorce professional. You schedule a meeting to explore the different options available to you to minimize conflict and maximize resources. In this example, the attorney meets with you and takes you through your process options.  
These options are as follows:
1. Mediation.
Your mediation team would usually consist of a trained working mediator (by “working” I mean someone who actually makes a living doing mediation – not just someone who once took a training course and has little experience). Also on your team could be a financial neutral to assist with gathering and processing the financial data, preparing budgets and making future net worth projections and similar valuable analyses to take some of the emotion off of your choices.
Mediation is less likely to be successful when there is a large power imbalance between the two spouses, a huge difference between a mediated divorce and a collaborative divorce is that there is no advocate sitting with you in the negotiation sessions in a typical mediated divorce.  In the collaborative divorce your advocate is with you through the entire process.
1. Collaborative Divorce
In a collaborative divorce a collaboratively trained team of professionals is assembled. Often, the case begins with one of the spouses contacting a divorce coach who assesses the ability of the parties to respond positively to the collaborative divorce process and discusses with them what is necessary to assemble the collaborative divorce team. The team will typically consist of a neutral divorce coach to assist with communication and emotional issues, a financial neutral, and each party has their own attorney advocates who are collaboratively trained.
The difference between a mediated divorce and a collaborative divorce is that the collaborative divorce is more likely to be successful than a mediated divorce. Also, with some mediations consisting of a flat fee of $9,500.00, the collaborative divorce team approach could actually cost less than the mediated divorce.
There are other mediators who work on an hourly and per session basis whose overall fees could be much less than $9,500.00.
1. Litigation
A third option is the traditional positional litigation model. If experts are needed they are not neutrals and the parties need two separate financial experts and two separate psychological experts and so on. The costs of litigation can be quite astronomical. These costs certainly exceed both the mediated and collaboratively done divorces. There tends to be much less control over the process and outcome with a litigated divorce. Sometimes there’s no choice but to have a litigated divorce when one of the parties is extremely reticent, confrontational or involved with substance abuse.
1. Kitchen Table
A fourth option is what I will refer to as the “kitchen table” divorce. In the kitchen table divorce the two amicable spouses who have a great deal of trust  for each other and transparency about assets and income hash out their divorce settlement and one of the parties presents the agreement to their attorney who prepares the binding legal documents and processes the divorce filing. The attorney as described can only represent one of the parties. Certainly, the other spouse can obtain the services of another attorney for review of what the first attorney has done. This may be the least expensive of all of the choices, but is also dependent upon complete transparency and tremendous trust.