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Birmingham AL Collaborative Divorce Law Blog

Friday, March 11, 2016

Divorce & Child Custody: It Doesn't Have to be Scored Earth

When you consider the topic of divorce or child custody disputes, what type of scene do you picture?  If you’re like the overwhelming majority of people, it probably looks something like this:

Most of us picture a scenario where the person on the other side seems radically intent on destroying the other, both financially and emotionally.  This can be exhibited in a variety of tactics:

  • Delays and continuances:  one party drags the divorce out longer and longer to beat down the other or for their own benefit.
  • Parental alienation:  one spouse alienates the child(ren) from the other.
  • Frozen assets & no financial access: if one spouse plans for divorce, and the other is totally unprepared, the prepared individual may have cut off access to assets, making it difficult for other party to hire an attorney, feed children, pay the mortgage, etc.

Adversarial and litigious divorces can be extended and prolonged psychological and financial battles.  Depression, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, guilt and shame are all too common.  However, a growing trend in divorce practice, and especially here in Alabama, approaches a divorce proceeding in a rational, civil and ultimately, mutually beneficial manner for both parties – Collaborative Divorce.

Collaborative divorce isn’t just mediation or divorce with cooperation between the parties.  Rather, it’s a unique and specialized legal process wherein the parties make a contractual agreement, at the outset of the proceedings, that they will not litigate, will craft shared goals of resolution, and will work mutually towards them.  In short, it’s a forward thinking process, not one that focuses on past hurts, wrongs and injustices.  This process takes a much more holistic approach to a divorce action, providing opportunities for support from more than just a court system or an attorney.  The process brings in mental health and financial professionals to assist with communication hurdles, transitions and future planning.  This interdisciplinary team of professionals can help the couple maintain an eye to building the future they want for their family post-divorce, a view that is often foreign to a traditional divorce setting.

Seem too good to be true?  For a very long time, it was.  Collaborative divorce wasn’t always available or recognized in Alabama.  In fact, the attorneys at Nolan Byers were key individuals in Alabama’s recognition of the process, through a grassroots effort which ultimately resulted in formalized training being brought to the state.  To date, there have been approximately 27 reported Collaborative Divorces in Alabama, of which Frances Nolan has been involved in 20.

Rather than coming out of the gates with guns blazing, a collaborative divorce attorney must be a complex and sophisticated problem solver – “shepherds…instead of only…gladiators and warriors” as Nolan puts it.  At Nolan Byers, clients will not find a one size fits all approach.  Rather, every alternative is examined and ultimately, a plan and approach is individually tailored for every client.  If you or a loved one is considering divorce or unwillingly finds themselves in a divorce or family law action, seek out a law firm whose goal is to understand each clients’ fears and concerns, and to provide options and support for your family.


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