This is a question that is often asked when people are considering using interdisciplinary collaborative practice to help them reach agreements with their ex.
After all you are engaging four professionals, each highly skilled in their own discipline. The couple each has a collaborative lawyer and there is a financial planner and a family consultant – ‘surely that must cost more than just having a lawyer each’ I hear clients say. You would think so – but it’s not true. The key to reducing costs in a family law settlement lies in managing conflict and fears and getting the right help to decide about dividing family assets.
I often say to clients that collaborative practice can be much cheaper than engaging only lawyers. The collaborative settlement process is like a project, you have to have the right person, doing the right job at the right time. I use the example of building a new home – you don’t have the plumber doing the electrical work – you don’t plaster the walls before the wiring is put in!
When going through separation and divorce life throws a lot of things at you. It’s not unusual for people to be struggling with emotions, or to be worried about their financial future, or how they will parent their children. The law has very few answers to the real questions and worries that people have at this time.
Rushing off to adversarial lawyers in the hope of ‘getting this over quickly’ can actually cause more delay, stress and cost than engaging a collaborative team. Too often, old communication patterns and past hurts come to the fore and before you know it the negotiations have run off the rails and conflict and costs are mounting.
An interdisciplinary collaborative team can help a couple deal with all the issues they face in a planned way and deal with the issues that are likely to get in the way of reaching agreements. Couples are prepared for the settlement negotiations, getting help to manage communication, getting help to understand the financial situation and what will be possible and help to understand any legal issues they may fact. They get help on parenting plans and tips on healthy co-parenting. This is how an interdisciplinary collaborative process keeps the cost of reaching agreements in check.
VACP is confident that the costs that a separated couple will incur in a well-managed interdisciplinary collaborative process is a fraction of what they would pay in a lawyer negotiation process. Leaders in collaborative practice estimate that the total cost of the collaborative process is about 25% of what each person would pay in a traditional legal process – leaving more money for the family’s future.
As well as lower costs, separating couples receive the benefit of getting help from many professionals in a kinder, less stressful process that sets them up for a more positive future.