Spotlight: Stange Law Firm
collaborative divorce: a positive alternative
The end of a marriage is an unfortunate parting of ways, but it still can be accomplished in a spirit of cooperation. A relatively new method known as collaborative divorce helps couples keep the process civil and reach an out-of-court settlement, says Kirk Stange, founding partner at the Clayton-based Stange Law Firm. He and four of his colleagues are trained as collaborative attorneys, helping families to move past broken marriages while preserving ties between parents and children.
Collaborative divorce is based on a model similar to mediation, according to Stange. It’s not just a buzzword; it’s a proven method that simplifies proceedings and holds great promise for the future of family law, he notes. To raise awareness of the process, Stange and his colleagues helped establish the Missouri Collaborative Institute, a network of practitioners. To become a collaborative attorney, a lawyer takes mediation training and interdisciplinary training approved by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.
The process of collaborative divorce is pretty straightforward, according to Stange. “Each side retains a collaborative attorney, and other professionals such as a divorce coach and a financial neutral may be involved as well,” he explains. “The coach helps facilitate positive communication in meetings, and the financial neutral helps the parties negotiate the division of assets.” If there are minor children, a custody advisor also can be brought in, especially in the case of a child with special needs.
Stange says collaborative divorce can be a great option for high-net-worth couples with significant assets to divide. “They may need an appraisal of a home or business, or there may be special tax considerations,” he says. “A regular divorce is often like a war of competing experts. But in a collaborative divorce, the parties use the same financial neutral, so the process stays impartial.”
Once all the details have been worked out, there is a 30-day waiting period, then the paperwork is submitted for a judge’s signature. Usually, the couple can avoid the hassle and stigma of appearing in court, Stange says. (In rare cases where a collaborative settlement can’t be reached, the parties retain new representation and the case does go to court.)
Compromise is never easy, especially where deep emotions are involved, but collaborative divorce can help take the sting out of the process, Stange says. He and his colleagues want to help St. Louisans understand how this proactive method can help family members heal. “Research shows that when couples settle amicably out of court, they tend not to end up there later over other matters,” he says. “Some people believe that lawyers like prolonged litigation, but good attorneys don’t operate that way. They want to see their clients taken care of in a way that’s efficient, sensitive and fair.”
For more information about collaborative divorce, call the Stange Law Firm at 855.805.0595 or visit missouricollaborativeinstitute.com. Note: The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and and should not be based solely on advertisements.
120 s. central avenue, suite 450 • 855.805.0595 • stangelawfirm.com