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david@davidhinsonlaw.com

Shriver, Schwarzenegger & Collaborative Divorce?

By now everyone has heard the news that Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger announced their decision to divorce only days after celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.  I (predictably ) wondered what kind of process they will use to divorce after 25 years of marriage.  My first thought was that they could benefit from a Collaborative Divorce.

According to AP writer Michael R. Blood, here, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger issued a joint statement from the pair stating that they were “working on the future of their relationship while living apart and they would continue to parent their four children — Katherine, 21, Christina, 19, Patrick, 17, and Christopher, 13… ‘After a great deal of thought, reflection, discussion, and prayer, [they] came to this decision together.’”  To me, that sounds like a couple who could really benefit from the Collaborative Divorce process.

As I have said before, Collaborative Divorce allows you to have control of what the terms of your divorce settlement are, and it is long-term focused by building communication and negotiation skills that assist you in continuing to have a workable co-parenting arrangement with your ex-spouse.  However, there are other advantages to a Collaborative Divorce.

One of the main benefits of Collaborative Divorce is that it is better for children.  Collaborative Divorce puts a focus on children’s needs and concerns.  A parenting schedule is created with the children’s best interests in mind, and in a full-team model, the mental health professionals acting as the Divorce Coaches and Neutral Child Specialist play a critical role in developing appropriate, effective, durable and healthy parenting schedules while making sure the children’s voices are heard.  The quote above clearly indicates Shriver and Schwarzenegger’s desire to protect their children and their parental involvement during and after their divorce, which is a hallmark of Collaborative Divorce.

Another benefit of Collaborative Divorce is the privacy it offers.  In a Collaborative Divorce, privacy is maintained and confidentiality respected throughout the process.  Information is shared and exchanged voluntarily and in private, outside of the courtroom.  In a traditional adversarial divorce, your attorneys go through the court system in a process called “discovery” to gather information, which is more expensive and much less private.   Your private life does not become a public issue.  Instead of having to argue and fight over possibly embarrassing or intimate details of your marriage in a courtroom, these issues are discussed in private, confidential four-way meetings between you, your spouse, and your two attorneys.  The opposite situation is all too easy to imagine.  Celebrity divorces usually become a media spectacle, with private information and intimate details becoming headlines.  Collaborative Divorce can offer a much more private and less stressful way to divorce with dignity.

Collaborative divorce is nothing new to celebrity couples, either.  Singer/actress Madonna and director Guy Ritchie are widely considered to be the first celebrity couple who publicly chose to divorce using Collaborative Law.  In 2008, actor/comedian Robin Williams and his wife chose to use the Collaborative Divorce process out of a desire to create a foundation for continuing to work together as parents for the sake of their children.  Williams stated “We will strive to be honest, cooperative and respectful as we work in this process to achieve the future well-being of our families.  We commit ourselves to the collaborative law process.”  More recently, Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren reportedly chose to use a Collaborative Divorce process to reach their divorce settlement agreement.

There are many processes you can choose to work through a divorce, and each has its own pros and cons.  It is important that you understand your options fully before deciding how to proceed.  While there is never a single process that will work for everyone, I highly recommend that you learn more about Collaborative Divorce and what it can offer you and your spouse if you are considering a divorce.  Please explore our website to learn more or call us at (919) 676-6598 to schedule a consultation.

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