Divorce is one of the top 3 most stressful events a person can experience. During a Divorce most people feel they have limited or no control in what’s happening throughout the process.
They gather information for their attorney and then sit and wait, not sure if they should even talk to each other, which creates fear, resentment and ultimately more fighting.
As a financial neutral working in a Collaborative Divorce team I have the advantage of witnessing cases where the divorcing couple work together with the team to collaborate on their settlement. In these cases I see the collaborative divorce process as a means for the couple to have more control in their own situation.
What is the roll of a financial neutral in the collaborative process? Each person hires an attorney who is there to advocate for them. The financial neutral gathers and verifies all the information of the financially related assets. Budgets are reviewed and created for what life might look like with two households.
All the financials are put into a format that allow both parties the ability to make informed decisions. Using a financial neutral is generally more efficient than having each attorney doing the work of gathering and producing their own documents.
The balance sheet and budgets are created once. The attorneys then review the information and rely on the financial neutral to address questions and concerns.
As the neutral I provide all source documents to both parties and the attorneys which is also more efficient then letters back and forth requesting the information.
Coming to an agreement is accomplished in joint meetings where the participants and their attorneys are present. Different scenarios are proposed and discussed for ways to split the assets, income and expenses. The financial neutral facilitates this conversation and provides real time reports that can be reviewed and discussed during the meeting.
In the article Minnesota lawyers are trying to make divorce…friendly? Louise Livesay-Al, a collaborative divorce lawyer in St. Paul, discusses how the collaborative divorce movement began in Minnesota.