This post is from Steve Walker, principal at Steve Walker, CPA, based in Frisco. He has over 30 years accounting, tax, valuation, and forensic accounting experience. His practice focuses exclusively on family law matters in the areas of collaborative divorce, mediation, litigation support and professional training. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, The Collaborative Law Institute of Texas and the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.
In some collaborative cases, either or both parties suggest that court would be better than the collaborative process — which, in our view, is not the case at all. But as collaborative advocates, we have to know what to do in this situation.
Here is what Woody Mosten sometimes does in this situation. If you don’t know Woody, he is a collaborative attorney, mediator, author and educator. He suggests couples who are in this situation take a court field trip. Make sure it is on a Monday or some other busy day. Some of the benefits are as follows:
• The couple can drive to the court and walk through the halls observing the litigants, lawyers, bailiffs, and judges. They will see and feel what the court experience could be like for them.
• They can see how much time a judge has to hear each case.
• They can see how much opportunity litigants have to speak with the judge or even with each other.
• They can see how much attention court proceedings give to litigant goals, values, common interests or creative non-judicial solutions.
Mosten goes on to suggest that these couples, if possible, go together and discuss the experience. It often helps them to see that they have a common interest in taking control of their lives and reducing costs in a private, collaborative setting. However, if they do not communicate well or are hostile with each other, they can go separately.
What’s most important, according to Mosten, is that they discuss the experience and their feelings at the next Joint Meeting. They’re asked share a detailed observation, get them to agree as to the validity of their observations, and talk about how the collaborative process can help them meet their common interests.
While the collaborative process can seem challenging to some couples that are in it, allowing them to get a glimpse of what courtroom divorces are like is a great way to help people see how much better the collaborative process can be.