During an interview with a mental health professional, the topic of cost came up. Here is how one professional addressed it with the client.
Jim: You’ve explained the team process and I think we understand how it works, but I do have some concerns about how much it costs to have all those professionals involved.
Nancy: You’re right to want to know how to budget for your divorce; otherwise like so many other endeavors, the money just seems to disappear. We appreciate people taking the time to plan ahead.
Before I explain how you can do that, I think it’s important to look at the Collaborative Team process in relationship to other ways you can divorce. In almost any other divorce process, the main goal is to achieve a legal dissolution of your marriage. Collaborative Divorce (CD) shares that goal but has significant additional differences. In CD you are buying specialized services that fit the needs of your family. If you have children, they will benefit from meeting with a Child Specialist who is skilled in working with children of divorce. Of course, you as parents, benefit from having the information and resources that the Child Specialist provides.
By working with the neutral Financial Specialist, you have the opportunity to make use of that professional’s expertise to make educated financial decisions that will impact you for years to come.
Your Coaches will be there to make sure that the goals you set for yourselves and your Co-parenting relationship are maintained throughout the process. They will be providing you with specific stress management and communication skills that will not only help you during your divorce but will enrich your lives long after as your family rebuilds.
Your lawyers are an essential resource for making sure that the relevant legal issues are considered and discussed, as they pertain to your case. They always remain your personal legal guides throughout the process providing support and education.
In addition, all the team members work together with you in promoting effective problem-solving techniques that result in developing solutions that best fit your family.
So, in a long winded way, I’m describing a process that provides essential services to you and your family; a process that sets it apart from all other methods of achieving divorce. For each area of divorce, you will be hiring experts who do that job best (legal, financial and emotional).
Jim: I appreciate the services. That’s why we’re choosing to work with a team instead of mediation. It seems like it should cost a lot more than mediation. Does it?
Nancy: I can’t say because not only are they two different processes with somewhat different goals but I don’t have the head-to-head studies comparing similar cases that would tell me that. What I do have is an average number of hours a case might take for the mental health professionals. I have no way of knowing whether your case will be above or below the average, so the best I can do is give you a range of the hours spent on a case and have you decide if you think it’s workable for you.
Jim: That would help me a lot. But first, what makes a case average?
Nancy: By average, I’m really talking about cases that don’t go to an extreme, either in being very simple and straightforward, or complex and very emotionally challenging. In other words, you might spend less or more, depending on your family’s needs. Consider that you are a consumer of these services, so in many ways you determine the kind and frequency of professional involvement.
Jim: Is there any way we can minimize the amount we spend?
Nancy: Good question. We’ve found that it really helps keep the costs down if clients do their homework and are prepared for each meeting. The more you can do on your own and the better prepared you are, the less expensive the process.
Another aspect is how well you are able to utilize your Coaching. We expect that our clients will be angry and often locked into patterns of communication that are ineffective but Coaches can work with their clients to maximize their effectiveness which also helps to keep costs down.
Jim: What you’re saying makes sense but I think I’d like that financial breakdown you just mentioned.
Nancy: So here it is. You have our hourly fees and your other team members will tell you their fees as well. You will meet with your Coaches a minimum of two times before your first four-way meeting (two hours).
The four-way meeting is two hours with both Coaches. The meeting notes that result from that meeting are ½ the hourly Coaches’ fee. We usually have an average of two to three four-way meetings.