No couple enters into marriage thinking that divorce will happen to them. Now that you have decided to end your marriage, where do you begin? Divorce can be incredibly emotional, stressful, and confusing with questions about financial decisions, living arrangements, and parenting schedules. Marriage was a process of merging households; Divorce is a process of separating into two households and requires the same decision making. However, divorce does not have to be a war. There are alternatives to costly court battles such as mediation or Collaborative Divorce or working with a divorce or co-parenting coach. You DO have a choice. What will your divorce story be?
Mediation, an alternative dispute resolution process, is an increasingly popular, more efficient, and less expensive method to reach agreements in a separation or divorce.
- Private: Mediation is confidential, occurring outside of the court process with no formal filing and records, which are public documents, except for your final agreement.
- Voluntary: You willingly engage in the mediation process with a dedication to attempt to reach agreement and with the intention to disclose all information. You can end the mediation process at any time.
- Self-Directed: You and not a judge or attorneys make the decisions.
- Empowering: You communicate directly, facilitated by the mediator, rather than through a judge or attorneys.
- Non-Adversarial: The philosophy of mediation is not a win-lose one. Rather it is for you to reach mutually agreeable decisions that are favorable to both.
- Faster: You set the timetable and determine the pace rather than proceed based upon set court dates.
- Economical: Agreements are reached with less cost than in a more adversarial model, as you are working with one neutral third party.
- Child-Focused: If you have children, co-parenting is forever. Mediation focuses on enhancing communication to help you co-parent with less conflict post-divorce.
- Durable: Given that you make the decisions, you are more likely to abide by the agreements made and therefore you are less likely to return post-decree to the court process.
In a litigation model, you both hire an attorney, file documents regarding assets and debts with the court, communicate through your respective attorneys, and attend court appearances that are scheduled for status even if no progress has been made. Often, tensions mount and disagreements escalate leaving both of you emotionally, and possibly, financially drained. This does not seem to be a particularly helpful model for families, particularly if children are involved.
There are situations when mediation is not appropriate and you need the backing of the court such as when domestic violence is present or when assets are being hidden. Yet in most cases, there is a different way.
Within mediation, the two of you meet together with a trained mediator, who acts as a neutral third party to help identify the issues relevant to your situation, to explore possible options for settlement, and to guide discussion of agreements that are mutual. To this end, the mediator facilitates respectful, honest, and open communication to promote creative problem solving within an emotionally difficult process. Throughout the process, you have attorneys that provide legal guidance and file your final settlement agreement yet you communicate directly and make the decisions with the goal to work collaboratively. This is particularly important if you have children, as you will have to continue to co-parent and research has shown that parental conflict is the single largest predictor of how children cope with separation or divorce.
- Premarital Agreements
- Separation / Never Married
- Post-Decree Disagreements
The Collaborative Process May be for You if:
- You want to prioritize your children in this transition.
- You want to figure out how to move from a marital relationship to a co-parenting relationship.
- You want to keep your private lives private and out of public court records.
- You want to make choices that work for your unique family rather than having attorneys or a judge make the decisions for you.
- You recognize divorce is not just a legal process but an emotional, financial, and parenting one as well.
- You are able to honestly exchange financial and other information.
- You want to minimize emotional trauma and financial loss.
Within the Collaborative process you achieve these goals by working with a team of collaboratively trained individuals external to court. The collaborative team includes:
- Attorneys: The attorneys provide legal guidance and advice. Within the Collaborative process, the attorneys work together, rather than in an adversarial win-lose manner, to help you reach agreements that are in your mutual best interests.
- Coach: The coach is a mental health professional who helps identify your concerns, provides support, and focuses on separating the emotional from the decision-making components of the divorce process so that you can communicate more effectively and make decisions from a thoughtful and not an emotional perspective.
- Financial Neutral: This is a financial specialist who acts as a neutral third party providing education and guidance regarding financial decisions such as the division of assets and debts, child support, spousal support, and taxes.
- Child Specialist: This is a mental health professional who acts as a neutral third party providing education and guidance regarding child development, the possible impact of divorce on children, and effective co-parenting communication. The child specialist also helps you to develop your parenting plan.
Paulette Janus, LCSW is trained and qualified to act as either a coach or a child specialist within the Collaborative team.
Wouldn’t it be great to have the guidance of a co-parenting expert, one you could have on speed dial?
Well, now you can!
Whether you are contemplating separation, beginning a divorce, or have been battling for years, it is never too early or too late to enhance your co-parenting relationship.
Co-parent coaching is designed to help you learn about:
- Typical child development
- How separation or divorce may impact your child
- Common co-parenting pitfalls
- Effective co-parenting strategies
In addition to co-parent coaching, we offer a co-parent boot camp. This is a 3-hour private workshop, tailored to your individual needs.
Believe your co-parent won’t attend? No worries! We understand the realities of co-parenting and offer a co-parent coaching for one. After all, no matter how your co-parent chooses to act, you have a choice of how you interact and react.
Why Choose Us
Paulette Janus, LCSW focuses on helping clients navigate the divorce process with the least amount of emotional discord, preserving positive parent-child relationships. Her work is guided by her expertise in family systems, communication skills, problem-solving, and child development.
What Clients Say
Paulette helped us make decisions about our parenting schedule and focus on how to communicate as co-parents. She really guided our discussions, especially when we started into our typical arguments. It was a challenge yet worth the effort for our kids.