A Process that Works
By Linda Sechrist
Although few individuals who are familiar with divorce proceedings would ever put the words “graceful” and “divorce” in the same sentence, Marcy Jones does it every day. As an attorney specializing in family law, Jones is a passionate advocate for a much needed paradigm shift within the legal system. A lawyer, speaker and coach, she is the author of Graceful Divorce Solutions: A Comprehensive and Proactive Guide to Saving You Time, Money, and Your Sanity.
In the world of family law that Jones practices, clients interact with a team of compassionate and psychologically savvy lawyers, as well as financial and child specialists, who help them to deal with the unpredictability and emotional intensity of the divorce process. Jones’ little-recognized model, which actually has been around for 20 years, is known as “collaborative divorce.”
In her latest e-book, Anatomy of a Collaborative Divorce: A Roadmap of the Collaborative Process, Jones offers a clear overview of her divorce “dispute-resolution” collaborative process. She points out that the key difference between a collaborative process and the conventional one is the client’s pledge to reach an agreement without going to court. “This agreement is what makes the process work,” emphasizes Jones.
Christine,* a Lynchburg resident who used Jones’ services to amicably dissolve an 18-year marriage, attests to the fact that the agreement definitely makes the process work. “I felt that the transparent process worked far better than I anticipated and that we made progress at each meeting, because it felt like we were a team collaborating together on an agreed-upon agenda rather than fighting against each other on issues as they popped up,” she says. “With our team’s help, we had good face-to-face communications and great brainstorming sessions that resulted in better long-term solutions that are comfortable ones which we can all live with.”
Christine also used the services of a financial specialist and collaborative counselor on the Jones collaborative team. “My ex-husband and I had a business and it was imperative to have someone to help us resolve our personal and business finances,” she notes.
“The process that Christine and her now-ex-husband came to appreciate is a client-centered and client-controlled process that focuses on interest-based negotiation rather than the traditional positional bargaining process,” says Jones. The goal of collaboration is to develop respectful relationships and solve problems together with long-term solutions that work legally and emotionally. The one thing missing from the collaborative scenario is the courtroom battle with adversarial lawyers who duke it out, and a judge who views families merely as files in an overflowing docket.
A conventional divorce—expensive, time-consuming, destructive to relationships and extremely stressful to the entire family—generally leaves divorced parents to face the prospect of co-parenting for a decade or two after they’ve sabotaged goodwill and trust.
This was something that Sally, another Lynchburg resident, and her ex-husband avoided by using the collaborative divorce process. Sally, her ex-husband and his collaborative lawyer, along with Jones, worked together to dissolve a seven-year marriage. “With the help of both attorneys, I believe that the more effective communications resulted in a better environment for our 4-year-old daughter,” explains Sally. “Even though we are a split family today, I think we have a good relationship.”
An added benefit that Sally hadn’t counted on is that the collaborative process can allow for a return to the negotiation table months and even years later whenever irresolvable issues arise. “We recently made an appointment with Marcy so that she could help us communicate better on an issue we couldn’t resolve ourselves,” Sally remarks.
Jones gives her clients a copy of Graceful Divorce Solutions so that they can familiarize themselves with the process before it begins. “It’s smart for clients to be proactive and know how things are going to proceed and what to expect,” says Jones. “When they don’t know what to expect, especially in a stressful situation like divorce, their minds fill up with fearful thoughts and incorrect assumptions that are based on inaccurate information. This is counterproductive not only to your emotional and financial lives, it also interferes with making the best choices for you and your family,” advises Jones.
*Clients’ last names were omitted to protect their privacy.
For more information call (434) 845-2463, visit MMarcyJones.com or GracefulDivorceSolutions.com.