The vast majority of divorcing couples want to reach a “fair” settlement and avoid a costly trial in a litigation setting. But a lack of information – and the fear inevitably fueled by that lack of information – understandably gets in the way.
For many couples, one of the two spouses might have had greater control over how the family’s income was spent during the marriage. Or perhaps there is a business operated by one of the spouses. Or maybe there have been asset dispositions and/or the incurrence of debt in which one of the spouses was engaged to a greater degree than the other spouse. These types of situations are commonplace, but – when a divorce arises – they present significant hurdles for both spouses.
The dilemma presented to the uninformed spouse is to either negotiate without critical information necessary to make an informed settlement OR commence costly (and often inefficient) discovery proceedings within the highly adversarial environment of divorce litigation. With only these two choices available for many years, and the uninformed client often never felt as if she/he was treated fairly.
The dilemma presented to the spouse in possession of the critical information was to either withhold the information to maintain a positional negotiating and/or a litigation advantage OR disclose the information and risk that the uninformed spouse will not fully understand the context behind what the documents disclose, resulting in perhaps even greater discord and a more adversarial environment. With only these two choices available, the spouse in possession of critical information often felt misunderstood and sometimes even unappreciated for his/her financial efforts during the marriage.
When only the traditional divorce process options are considered, it is no wonder that TRUST becomes a dirty word for most divorces.
With the advent of the Collaborative Divorce process, neither the information-gathering nor the negotiation need be adversarial any longer. The information-gathering, as well as the valuable opportunity to communicate the backdrop and context for that information, both take place transparently so that the trust-imploding risk of misunderstanding is minimized. As a result, the Collaborative Divorce process can be the right choice for many couples.
BRIAN URBAN & BRIDGETTE POZZUTO
Cleveland’s Collaborative Divorce Attorneys