I went to a seminar last month by Ron Ousky, co-author of The Collaborative Way to Divorce. It was an amazing presentation and inspired me to grow my collaborative divorce practice. The collaborative community in New Jersey continues to be strong and is growing, as witnessed by those who attended the program.
One of his points which truly resonated with me that Ron talked about was how important it is for persons who are considering divorce to meet with professionals who practice more than one process. The more I thought about it, the more important I believed this idea to be.
If a person who is looking to divorce meets with an attorney who only does litigation, that person is likely to end up in court to litigate. If a person meets with someone who solely does mediation, it is more likely that they will proceed with mediation than another process. Professionals will often suggest to a client that he or she should proceed with the process that they practice.
Why? Well, a litigator may not be as familiar with the way a collaborative divorce works. A litigation attorney also does not want to lose the client if he or she is trained in mediation or collaborative divorce. Same goes for the practitioners who only work with one process or are only trained in one process.
If a person meets with an attorney who is trained in mediation, collaborative divorce and litigation they have the benefit of understanding what are the positives and negatives of each process. Trained professionals can provide their knowledge and experience to the client, so the client can make an informed decision about what process may work best for his or her family.
Is being trained that important? The law does not prevent an attorney who is not trained as a mediator or collaborative attorney from handling a mediated or collaborative divorce. In fact, to be a mediator requires no training or legal knowledge at all. If a professional is not trained, he or she probably does not have all the knowledge or experience to handle the case in the right way.
Think of it like this: all doctors do a general rotation in medical school where they learn about delivering babies. If they are an orthopedic surgeon, they trained and practiced at that field of specialty. They may be one of the top orthopedic surgeons. You would want to go to them if you tore your ACL or needed rotator cuff surgery. But you would not necessarily want them to deliver your baby?
An attorney who does (or previously did) litigation and is trained in other processes like mediation or collaborative divorce can offer a greater perspective. Even if the person they meet with does not become a client, at the very least the person can make an informed decision about which process will work best for him or her. And how a person divorces can influence their satisfaction in the results, the relationship he or she has with the other party and the outcome.
So, if you are looking to get divorced, you should consider meeting with a professional who does litigation and is trained in forms of alternative dispute resolution (mediation, collaborative divorce, arbitration). Finding the process that is right for you and your family can make the all the difference in the results.