I remember the palpable sense of helplessness and fear when I realized that I was heading down the road to divorce. Confused, bitter and full of questions and few answers, I knew very little about what to expect in the months to come. Then, based on a referral from another family lawyer, I was introduced to the process of collaborative divorce. “Collaborative divorce… a contradiction in terms” I thought. Now, looking back, I realize how little I really understood, and how fortunate I was to have been referred to this process.
While every divorcing couple’s situation is different, I firmly believe that partnering in the collaborative divorce process was one of the best decisions my wife and I could have made. The collaborative process helped us keep what was most important at the forefront of our efforts – our co-parenting of three wonderful children. I’ve seen divorces involving children that are characterized by ambiguity, bitterness and conflict. I believe ours was built on guidelines, principles and trust that we worked hard to establish along the way.
No divorce process is perfect, just as no marriage is perfect. I strongly believe, however, that communication, respect and trust are principles that are as important in divorce as they are in marriage – and the collaborative process gave me and my family all three.
The anecdotal information we get from clients shows that many of them are very satisfied when they choose the Collaborative process for their divorce. But is there any research into this question?
The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“IACP”) did an analysis of client satisfaction in approximately 1000 cases from across the country. The IACP study found that there is a high success rate when divorcing parties choose the Collaborative process. Specifically, there was a positive outcome in almost 90% of the Collaborative cases in the study — 86% of the Collaborative cases settled with an agreement on all issues, and in an additional 3% of cases, the parties reconciled their marriage.
Of these cases in which there was a positive outcome, only 9% of clients were dissatisfied with the process – 5% being somewhat dissatisfied and 4% being extremely dissatisfied.
Given that many divorcing couples begin the divorce process in crisis, and are experiencing very strong emotions such as anger, fear, and sadness, this level of positive outcomes and degree of satisfaction with the process seem quite high.
Hopefully, these research statistics provide confidence that if you choose the Collaborative process for your divorce, you will be pleased that you did so. Feldesman Tucker’s Family Law group includes six attorneys who are skilled at using the Collaborative model with clients, whether they live in the District of Columbia, Maryland, or Virginia.