This recent article by Matt Baron in the Chicago Tribune may be of interest to readers of this blog.
‘The Weekend Divorce’: Attorneys Develop Innovative Approach to Untying the Knot
Breaking up is hard to do—even when both husband and wife are ready to bring their marriage to an end. As a result, divorce can often be financially devastating and time consuming.
Against that backdrop, attorneys Sandra Young and Brian Garvey have developed an innovative antidote that is believed to be the first of its kind anywhere: “The Weekend Divorce.”
A centerpiece of their streamlined approach is booking a hotel conference room for two days and negotiating every detail of the divorce agreement and signing all documents by the time the couple leaves on Sunday. Both attorneys assess a flat fee for their services.
The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, with more than 5,000 members in 24 countries, knows of no other attorneys who are using a model like The Weekend Divorce.
The duo’s shared passion for helping couples move on with the rest of their lives, as harmoniously and as efficiently as possible, sparked The Weekend Divorce concept.
“Too often, a breakup that begins with civility declines into civil war as stress levels rise and, in some cases, unscrupulous attorneys pit their clients against one another,” said Young. “The collaborative divorce model is less disruptive, both in the present and the future, especially where children are involved.”
One of the distinguishing features of collaborative divorce is that both parties pledge to work together respectfully, honestly, and in good faith to resolve issues and reach agreements beneficial to everyone involved.
The concept of “The Weekend Divorce” took shape, fittingly enough, over a weekend in October 2012 when Young and Garvey helped a couple bring their marriage to a halt. In that and any other divorce representation, each advocates solely for one individual.
Collaborative Divorce (aka Collaborative Law or Collaborative Practice) is a “no-court-client-centered” dispute resolution process that separating spouses can use with the help of specially trained and licensed legal, mental health and financial professionals.
When it comes to divorce, Young and Garvey have heard a similar refrain from clients as well as others in their lives: it tends to take a lot longer, and cost a lot more, than people expected.
“So many times, even though people want to get a divorce, they don’t even want to start the process,” Young explained. “They are worried about where it’s going to end.”
While hotly contested divorces are prone to those drawn-out, expensive sagas, there are plenty of relatively amicable partings that would be good candidates for The Weekend Divorce, according to Young and Garvey.
Both attorneys have extensive experience working in collaborative divorce. Combined, they have represented couples more than 80 times, including three occasions in which they worked together as a team for divorcing couples.
Reflecting on her career, Young said that in all but a few of the divorce cases she worked on, The Weekend Divorce model would have been a viable option; for Garvey, about one-third of his cases would have been a potential fit, he estimated.
Terminating a marriage with efficiency should not be construed as doing anything in haste, said Garvey. He noted that both parties are required to provide the same level of documentation as any other divorce case.
“The standard divorce case—and even with collaborative divorce sometimes—it drags on with all of the required documentation, and ongoing negotiation, happening little by little, piece by piece over a number of court hearings,” Garvey noted. “With The Weekend Divorce, we simply accelerate in a few days what typically takes months, if not years.”
“This is not like those quickie marriages you hear about in Las Vegas drive-thrus,” he cautioned. “It’s not Bill and Sue getting into a fight on Thursday, then meeting with us the next day to call it quits. The Weekend Divorce is for couples who have thoughtfully agreed that their marriage has run its course.”
A pivotal document that guides couples, in advance of The Weekend Divorce, is a financial checklist in which they gather copies of statements ranging from tax returns, paycheck stubs, bank accounts and life insurance policies to mortgages, automobile debt and real estate appraisals. That paperwork must be furnished to the attorneys at least 10 days before The Weekend Divorce session.
Information provided by K.O. Herston: Knoxville, Tennessee Divorce, Matrimonial and Family Law Attorney.