Why Do You Need Neutrals in the Collaborative Process?


Why do you need a coach or financial neutral in the collaborative divorce process? It’s not necessarily a need as it is a huge benefit. A coach and a financial neutral are helpful to the process for many reasons.    

A client may ask why would I need to pay for two additional people at the table? Attorneys are used to dealing with raw emotion that comes along with a divorce or custody case, the attorneys are used to analyzing assets, analyzing tax consequences, calculating income and running support numbers. Why are these two additional charging professionals involved?

Simple — The cases just run much more smoothly with the complete professional team. The complete professional team typically consists of the attorneys, the clients, a coach, who is a mental health professional, and a financial neutral.

The coach’s role is not to have husband or wife, or mother or father as the client, but, the process as the client. The coach assists with ensuring the meeting runs smoothly, offering professional therapeutic assistance in times of emotional bumps, lack of communication areas and keys to improving the communication, keeping an eye on the process to assist in staying with the agenda for that particular meeting to move forward in the progress of that particular meeting goals. The coach can assess the dynamics of the people at the table and suggest ways of improving areas  lacking in communication, which may be contributing to the road blocks in the case.   

The coach may offer the parties to meet separately outside of a meeting to work on an issue requiring therapeutic attention. Divorce does not come without emotionally charged elements of course. A coach can assist by working with the person to resolve those emotional hurdles so moving forward to resolve the asset and income sharing can be focused on within the team. The Coach is typically less expenses so it makes sense for the parties to utilize that person for the emotional aspects of the case rather than typically the higher hourly rate of his or her counsel.

A financial neutral is beneficial in many ways to the collaborative process. In traditional litigation, parties often engage in formal discovery, providing documentation of the assets and income to the other spouse, feeling as if he or she is forced to do it, as the request is formal and must be responded to within 30 days. When the request is coming from the other side, it almost always places the side receiving the request in a defensive attitude mode. 

In the collaborative process, the financial neutral requests documentation he or she requires to compile an asset list to assist both spouses with the understanding of the assets. The financial neutral is not aligned with either spouse. The neutrality of the request almost always leaves a different feeling than the formal discovery service from one spouse’s lawyer to the other spouse’s lawyer. The financial neutral is typically a lesser hourly rate. The time the financial neutral expends on gathering the documents, preparing an asset list, at times calculating net income, is typically less expensive than when the attorneys prepare the asset list and income calculations.

The exploring of options to resolve and how each result would look as well comes into play with the entire team. The preparation by the financial neutral removes the feeling of posturing by counsel and allows a more open discussion to center around exploring options for resolving the case.

To learn more about the options available in the collaborative process or if the option is right for you, read more on our blog or contact our collaboratively trained family law attorneys at Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz LLC.

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