“Families don’t belong in the court of law…”, says Erin Rhames-Childs, a Fresno County Collaborative Lawyer. With divorce at the highest rates in years, local divorce courts are inundated with too many litigants, and too little time to handle them.
For many, the cold hallways of a courthouse are traumatizing and some court orders for custody, visitation or property division are devastating for years after.
Through traditional divorce litigation, disputes over child custody and child visitation, parties are forced to hand over their most precious possessions – their children – to a stranger in a black robe will order when and how they will be raised, when and how each party will see them and how much money they will have to do all of this.
“I would never want that for myself and I don’t want it for my clients” says Erin Rhames-Childs, a family law attorney who practices Collaborative Law in the Central Valley. “Court is no place for families – it’s a place for contract disputes and criminal proceedings.”
The average divorce costs anywhere from five to tens of thousand of dollars and can take anywhere from six months to years to end. All the while, your family and financial security is in limbo. The California Community Property Laws are good at making division of assets “easy” but don’t necessary give people what the need.
“The judges are hard-working, well-intentioned public servants, but are very limited with what they can do. They have very little time to really listen to your needs and make the best decision that is in the best interests of your children or your finances.”
Attorney Childs practices Collaborative Divorce which is a rapidly growing alternative to the traditional divorce litigation. “Collaborative Law is an innovative approach to restructuring your family during divorce which focuses on the needs of your family and allows you both to be in charge of the decisions affecting the rest of your lives. All of this is done while keeping your personal and financial dignity intact.”
One of the primary goals of Collaborative Law is to preserve couples’ dignity, and respect. Honesty and the free sharing of information are expected and repeatedly encouraged. The idea is to preserve relationships for after the divorce when everything is said and done. In traditional divorce, the attorneys are paid gladiators – there to win at all costs, which usually ends with serious financial and emotional massacre.
The most salient feature of Collaborative Divorce is that both parties must commit in writing to not take their case to court and committing to finding resolutions that best serve their needs through a series of four-way meetings with their collaboratively trained attorneys.
Collaborative practice is often cheaper, faster and results in the parties preserving a functional relationship which will allow them to continue raising their children as divorced parents. “There is a lot less blood shed and the children are spared the trauma of the front row seat to it all.”