As a mom, I always want to do what is best for my daughter. And I know that other parents do too.
But as a parent, you don’t always know what “the best” is or where to start to even figure it out. As they say, children don’t come with instruction manuals. There are times I really struggle with decisions. Should I take my daughter to the doctor – I don’t want to drag her through medical tests every time she sneezes! But I don’t want to ignore something that could be important and in need of care. Do I schedule her for activities or just let her run free and play? Is she eating enough healthy food or am I just being too strict? Is she becoming a kind and confident person? And let’s not even talk about how much screen time I let her have! And those are just my worries on an ordinary day. What happens when something extraordinary like a divorce comes up? How do you know what to do to make sure your children will be ok? As a parent, I’m as clueless as can be. But as an attorney, I can definitely say, that whenever it’s a safe option for you, choosing a Collaborative Process divorce is better for your children.
The Collaborative Process Itself is Better for Parents
The Collaborative Process is based on the fact that almost all divorce cases end with an agreement reached by the parties – not by a judge’s ruling. The goal is to help people get to the final agreement as efficiently and peacefully as possible. When you and your spouse realize that a divorce is inevitable, the first best thing you can do for yourselves and your children is find an attorney who will help you get to where you want to be with respect for your time, money, and emotions. No divorce is easy and some are a lot harder than others. But all attorneys who are Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois Fellows are trained to help people reach agreements from a position of strength with less hostility and greater clarity. And this means a lot more time and energy for your children even while you are going through a divorce.
Greater Specificity and Personalized Results
The Collaborative Process divorce is far and away the best option for anyone with children. That’s especially true for families with special needs kids and children over eighteen. These families are overlooked by the traditional divorce process. Court proceedings tend to result in one size fits all rulings. In the Collaborative Process, the attorneys really help the clients focus on what their own children really need and what they want the post-divorce family to look like. The agreements reached about parenting time and decision making (what used to be called physical and legal custody) are custom crafted by you and your spouse with the guidance of your attorneys and the input of any experts you chose.
The Collaborative Process is a Better Option for Families with Special Needs Children
I’ve worked with many families with children with an autism spectrum diagnosis. These families need to make sure transitions will be as smooth as possible, that child care will be safe and appropriate, and that educational needs will be met post divorce. This impacts all of the financial aspects of the divorce as well. Whenever helpful, the Collaborative Process will bring in outside experts to guide the family. Parents can consult with their children’s care providers without dragging them into a contentious process. Everyone’s goal is to find the best option possible.
One client I worked with had a transgender child. Although both parents were emotionally supportive of the child, they differed in how financially and medically far they were willing to go to help the child. In the Collaborative Process we were able to de help de-escalate tension. The parents were able to agree on trusted medical and psychological professionals they were both willing to work with for expert guidance at that time and in the future. Most importantly, the parents were able to have a calm and respectful conversation in a private environment and continue to be great co-parents.
The Collaborative Process is a Better Option for Families with Adult Children
When there are no special needs involved a court will not make any rulings about your children who are over eighteen years old and out of high school, other than determining payment for college. Parents can use the Collaborative Process to make decisions about how they will co-parent children through college and beyond. For example, in a Collaborative case I worked on, a family had a daughter about to graduate from college. A big celebration dinner at a fancy restaurant had already been planned and all the grandparents were invited to attend the graduation ceremony and the dinner. Both parents began to worry that tension might build for themselves and all the relatives and result in a shouting match that would ruin the daughter’s celebration. They were also concerned about the overall cost, given the new expenses that the divorce was causing. This isn’t a legal issue, but the attorneys put on their mediator hats and helped the parents reach a solution. It was agreed that the family would hold a pizza party at the daughter’s apartment. This saved a lot of money and also avoided the awkwardness of a sit down dinner. Relatives would be free to come and go from room to room and anyone who needed a bit of fresh air could step outside! The daughter was thrilled that she could invite friends.
In other cases, rather than try to divide non-liquid assets or to avoid having to make a decision about a particularly contentious asset, parents have created a set aside fund for special occasions for their grown children. Sometimes parents use the Collaborative Process to create a plan for future holidays so the grown children don’t have to feel awkward trying to decide how to split their time.
Rachel Moore is an attorney, mediator, and CLII Fellow. She helps people get divorced by reaching the best possible agreements in the best possible way.
Rachel Moore Law, LLC
One Northfield Plaza, Suite 300
Northfield, IL 60093