The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many people to reassess how to approach family law disputes. Here are the top five reasons why, especially now, collaborative divorce makes more sense than ever.
1) Collaborative divorce is private and confidential. Due to Open Courts legislation, some judges are opting to stream trials on You Tube. While the courthouse has always been open to the general public, only a few people will normally go to the trouble to take time off, dress nicely, pay to park all day, and sit in to watch a trial. Usually such spectators may have been family or friends of the litigants, law students hoping to observe a trial, or curious observers. With You Tube, who knows who out there may be watching your dirty laundry being aired – maybe the same people who binge watch Tiger King. https://www.law.com/texaslawyer/2020/03/17/court-via-youtube-amid-covid-19-closures-texas-judges-ponder-public-access/?slreturn=20200320192411
2) With unemployment in Travis County at 2.6 percent before the COVID-19 crisis hit and now at over 20 percent, many people may feel insecure about their job and not inclined to spend large sums on litigation. While collaborative is not the very cheapest option out there, it can be the most cost effective if there are too many differences and problems in the relationship for the parties to iron out themselves.
3) It can help parties learn to best co-parent children in either a divorce situation or modification. The use of a mental health professional as a neutral team member can help keep a lid on parenting differences and stress caused by having to both work from home and home-school active children. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-to-co-parent-coronavirus-pandemic_l_5e7d1cc7c5b6256a7a27685a; https://theconversation.com/co-parenting-in-the-coronavirus-pandemic-a-family-law-scholars-advice-134093
4) Collaborative meetings can effectively be conducted on Zoom. As opposed to court proceedings on Zoom (where there is even more distancing from the judge and less eye contact), parties to collaborative meetings are in control of their destiny. A third party will not make a decision for them. During stressful times, interest-based negotiation places emphasis on the parties considering the interests and needs of the other, not on positional bargaining. This is a technique long in use by skilled mediators to encourage compromise and settlement.
5) You can divorce based on your own timetable, not the Court’s. There will likely be a significant backlog of cases for some time. With a collaborative team, you can move on your own schedule and that of the team.