I hear and see so many interesting, touching stories with my clients that I want to share some of them (while protecting privacy, of course) that might help others going through a hard time.
Right now, I’m representing the wife in a Collaborative case with a very close colleague representing the husband. While each spouse has his or her own attorney, we all sign a contract that neither attorney will take the matter to court; if that happens (which is statistically rare), the attorneys are disqualified and new litigation counsel must be retained. The Collaborative process looks and feels much like a co-mediated case, with the clients and both lawyers working together as a “settlement team” to find the best possible win-win-win solutions.
Before this particular case started, the clients developed some very beautiful goals to guide their work together. One of the wife’s goals was that there would be no “sides” in the case, since she felt that everyone should be on the same side – that of caring for the whole family.
Our first meeting was at the other lawyer’s office, which has a rectangular table. The husband was the first there, and already seated on one side when we arrived. I sat across the table from him and the wife sat next to me. She then realized that she was now on one side, while the husband was on the other. Without a word, she got up and changed places, sitting next to the husband, where they both remained for all of our meetings. True to their goals, as we work through the issues of their separation and planned divorce, this sweet couple continues to hug, fist-bump, and occasionally bicker but never forgets that they have pledged to remain a family now and in the years to come. In a Collaborative divorce, there really, truly is only one side.