Beyond Money: The Importance of Relationship in a Collaborative Divorce

Most of the time when I am involved in a collaborative divorce case, the clients and attorneys see my work solely as analyzing and dividing assets. In fact, all of the parties in the divorce — the clients, the attorneys, the coach and the financial neutral — are stewards of the relationship, and our actions may have a direct result on that relationship.

As we navigate the various legal, financial and, most importantly, emotional details of the divorce, I think it is imperative to remember that the divorcing couple has committed to giving their very best as they end their marriage. Often, as financial concerns arise — almost always based in a fear of the unsettled future the parties face — the money issue becomes emotionally charged.  This is understandable of course, and the emotions need to be addressed so that the facts of the asset division or support issues can be discussed. Keeping the relationship in the forefront even as the parties are working to end the marriage allows the process to move forward as quickly and easily as possible.

I encourage the divorcing couple to think about “teasing apart” the relationship; actively working to separate the assets, things and emotions that have naturally, over time, become intertwined. Central to the collaborative process is the ability to see the other side’s point of view, to have empathy for the reality they envision, and to manage the communication in a way that demonstrates that empathy. If we can do that and keep the focus on how the communication occurs, we will have successful outcomes in the collaborative process.

About the Blogger:

JAL photo 2 05292012John, principal and cofounder of Anton LeMieux Financial Group, has been guiding clients through the complex world of financial planning and investing since 1993. He left Merrill Lynch in 2009 with his partner Eric Anton to start the group with the specific vision that their clients would be better served in a more holistic practice focused directly on client needs and advocacy. John’s experiences as an entrepreneur, a financial planner, and investment advisor, as well as a college basketball coach, have combined to give him insight into the needs of the individuals, families, family-owned businesses, and nonprofit organizations that he serves.

He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional, a Certified Investment Management AnalystTM and a Certified Divorce Financial AnalystTM; but it is his willingness to address the emotional side of his clients’ financial lives that distinguishes him. John believes that to assist clients with complex financial decision making he must address the multifaceted realities of life that underscores the financial facts. In the process of working to address these realities, alongside the specific goals of each client, he endeavors to add value and build a vision for their personal financial needs. It is his view that each client has their own needs and wants in life and that a unique financial plan is needed to adequately address each client’s situation.

John is a founding member of the Maine Collaborative Law Alliance and as a financial neutral has played a lead role in the development of collaborative divorce in Maine.