Pros and Cons of Collaborative Divorce - Connecticut

Pros and Cons of Collaborative Divorce – Connecticut

An Interview with Rosemarie Ferrante Collaborative Attorney, Mediator - Divorce Mediation Center of Fairfield County, CT We are delighted to present an exclusive interview with Rosemarie Ferrante, a renowned Collaborative Attorney and Mediator at the Divorce Mediation Center of Fairfield County, Connecticut. In this comprehensive discussion, Rosemarie will share her expertise on collaborative divorce, a process that offers a distinct and often more harmonious path to navigating the intricacies of divorce compared to traditional litigation.

What is collaborative divorce and how does it differ from a litigated divorce in Connecticut?

Collaborative divorce, like divorce mediation, is an alternative dispute resolution method that guides couples through the divorce process with minimal court involvement. Collaborative divorce emphasizes cooperation, transparency, and mutual respect over adversarial court proceedings. By committing in writing to avoid court, the collaborative divorce attorneys ensure a dedicated negotiation process, striving for a mutually beneficial settlement outside the courtroom. This approach minimizes emotional upheavals associated with separations and prioritizes the welfare of children. Unlike traditional court proceedings, the collaborative process provides space to address emotional concerns and explore innovative financial and parenting strategies that might not be accessible in a judicial setting.

In a collaborative divorce, both spouses work together with a team of professionals. The team includes a collaboratively trained attorney for each spouse, a mental health neutral, and a financial neutral. The team works together to educate, support and guide the spouses in reaching a balanced, respectful and enduring agreement that meets the goals of both spouses and best serves the best interests of the children.

The collaborative attorney’s role differs than that of a litigator. Contrary to adopting an adversarial stance, collaboratively trained attorneys emphasize mutual respect and cooperation. These attorneys consider the perspective of both spouses, aiming to forge agreements that fulfill objectives while safeguarding the well-being of the entire family. What sets collaborative divorce apart from the traditional litigious approach is the proactive stance of collaborative lawyers. They anticipate potential conflicts, actively seek creative solutions to problems, and navigate the divorce process with a commitment to cooperative resolution, mutual respect, and dignified conduct.

The trained attorney provides a pivotal role in facilitating the collaborative divorce process and works with a neutral mental health professional. By guiding spouses through effective communication techniques, the spouses are empowered to co-parent with greater harmony, fostering a nurturing environment for their children. Additionally, the mental health professional aids in formulating tailored parenting plans that address each child’s developmental requirements. These plans outline communication protocols between parents concerning their children and establish a comprehensive schedule, encompassing everything from household transitions and holidays to strategies for navigating potential disagreements.

The financial neutral maintains impartiality, advocating for neither spouse but rather focusing on equitable outcomes. The financial neutral will encourage divorcing couples to look at long term goals and consider what is in the best interests of the entire family. He or she may offer expertise on valuing family businesses, navigate intricate tax implications, and help determine how the spouses can best financially support two households.

The team works together, guided by forward-looking perspectives that prioritize the collective well-being of the family. Unlike adversarial litigation, collaborative divorce champions a transparent, cooperative approach, steering spouses towards constructive resolutions rooted in mutual understanding and shared objectives.

What are the stages and process of collaborative divorce in Connecticut?

Both spouses retain and meet with their respective collaboratively trained attorneys to discuss the process and establish goals. The mental health neutral and a financial neutral will also have introductory meetings with the spouses.

The collaborative process commences with a team meeting and the signing of the participation agreement. This is an essential part of the collaborative divorce process. During the initial team meeting, there is a customary practice of reading the agreement aloud. The participation agreement serves as the foundation of the collaborative process. It ensures that spouses are provided with comprehensive disclosure and informed consent. This transparency allows the spouses to understand their responsibilities within the process and the governing guidelines they must adhere to. The agreement specifies that no court action will be taken. In the event either spouse or any professional involves the court, the process ends as does the engagement of the professionals involved.

The spouses, along with their attorneys and other professionals, participate in a series of sessions to identify issues, gather information, discuss goals and the best interests of the children, and ultimately build scenarios for resolution. When necessary, other experts such as appraisers or business evaluators, may be consulted to provide insights and recommendations. Once all issues are resolved, the attorneys draft a detailed agreement, which is then submitted to the court for approval.

Can collaborative divorce really provide for a stress free, low conflict, cost effective solution?

Collaborative divorce provides a less stressful, low-conflict, and cost-effective solution compared to traditional litigation. The key elements of the collaborative process are free and open communication, transparent and honest exchange of information, a pledge not to go to court, and a commitment to respect both spouse’s goals and the needs of the whole family. By promoting open communication and cooperation, collaborative divorce minimizes conflict and empowers spouses to make informed decisions. This process also imparts conflict resolution skills, equipping spouses with the ability to effectively address any future disagreements.

How long does the collaborative divorce process take in Connecticut?

The duration of the collaborative divorce process can vary depending on the complexity of the issues involved and the willingness of both spouses to cooperate. Collaborative divorce is an efficient process which considers the unique needs each family presents.

How can I determine if collaborative divorce is right for me?

To determine if collaborative divorce is right for you, consider whether you and your

spouse are emotionally prepared to engage in a constructive dialogue, are willing and able to make compromises, and are ready to work together to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. Divorce is never easy and the discussions will be challenging, but collaborative divorce offers a compassionate, efficient, and empowering alternative to traditional divorce litigation. Many individuals think that mediation and collaborative divorce only work if both spouses agree on all issues. That isn’t the case. Trained divorce professionals keep the conversations balanced and ensure each spouse has a voice. By prioritizing cooperation and mutual respect, these processes allow spouses to maintain control over the outcome while preserving their relationships, protecting their children and minimizing the emotional and financial toll often associated with divorce.

Rosemarie Ferrante is a family attorney who has been practicing exclusively family law for over 25 years. She focuses her practice on non-adversarial divorce through mediation and the collaborative divorce processes. Rosemarie’s goal is to make a positive impact on the divorce process by giving couples the resources and tools they need to help their family transition smoothly through the restructuring of their family.

About Rosemarie:

Rosemarie is Vice President of CCND, The Connecticut Council for Non Adversarial Divorce, the statewide non-profit professional organization of Connecticut mediators and collaborative divorce practitioners. She is a member of the Academy of Professional Family Mediators (APFM) and the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP). She is a founding chapter leader of the National Association of Divorce Professionals (NADP), the first national organization that unites professionals who serve clients going through all stages of the divorce process. She is a participating member in several collaborative practice groups throughout CT. Her bar association memberships include the American Bar Association (Family Law section, Mediation section and Collaborative section), the Connecticut Bar Association (Family Law Section and ADR Section), the Danbury Bar Association and the Fairfield County Bar Association.

Rosemarie founded Divorce Resource CT to provide public education and awareness and support to those contemplating divorce. In partnership with Hollis Hardiman, CDFA, she offers education, support and wellness workshops for individuals not only contemplating divorce, but also for those going through the process, as well as those seeking post-divorce information. The workshops are presented by herself and Hollis and various esteemed mental health professionals and are offered throughout Fairfield County, CT and online.

Rosemarie is a frequent guest on podcasts where she discusses the benefits of an integrative divorce process in which a team of interdisciplinary professionals best suited for the individual family guides the family through the divorce process to ensure a positive post-divorce co-parenting and financial life. She co-edited a book on divorce in Connecticut, “Divorce and Separation, Connecticut Edition” available on Amazon.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in 1993 and her law degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1996, where she was Primary Notes & Comments Editor of the Brooklyn Law Review.  She was admitted to the Connecticut Bar in 1996 and the New York Bar in 1997.


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15 March 2024 at 10:14

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