The other day as I left the courthouse to return to my office, on the way to my car, I passed by three very agitated maintenance workers who were having a heated discussion over the logistics of completing the weed whacking duties around the courthouse and its lawns.
One worker felt that the three of them should follow the exact same pattern that they did last week because it worked well and each worker had an equal amount of ground to cover. The second worker felt that because a portion of the lawn was actually a steep hill with many trees, which required a more focused approach and more time and energy, that portion should be made into a smaller share so that everyone’s labor was equal. The third worker, who made it clear that he had seniority over the other two, felt that he should get the plum weed whacking assignment around the flowerbeds that border the base of the Court House.
As I eavesdropped on them, it occurred to me that these three men were actually engaged in an organized analysis of how to best manage the task of weed whacking the lawns of the courthouse. I was struck by how, what might appear to be a mindless routine task to most people, was for these men a task to be completed successfully and in good time. Every one has a job to do well, and given the right tools, everyone can, in fact, do her job to the best of her ability.
Like weed whacking, all tasks can be divided by time; tasks can be divided by difficulty; and tasks can be divided by seniority. Every organization, in its own way, puts a priority on how, when and by whom a task is to be completed.
In my Mediation and Collaborative Divorce practice, I create a model of fairness and efficiency that focuses on a similar task oriented approach, minus the weed-whackers. Tasks that are necessary to complete for the case are divided by specialty, difficulty and are assigned to the most qualified member of the team. For example, in almost every family one spouse or the other is primarily responsible for the family’s finances and the day-to-day management of the parties’ bills and money. Generally, that partner takes the lead approach in organizing and preparing financial information for the team’s use, (which is obviously subject to review, advice and approval of the other partner.)
Tasks such as evaluating a pension, appraising real estate, structuring a parenting plan, preparing a cash-flow analysis, running spreadsheets calculating alimony and child support to maximize each party’s after-tax monthly cash flow and other divorce related matters are performed by professionals who can do the difficult tasks in which they specialize best.
The notion of “seniority”, or the song “But we’ve always done it this way,” have no place in collaborative divorce. This method of divorcing is progressive, innovative and client-driven. By allowing clients to control the logistics of their negotiations and terms of settlement, (whether “typical” or not), allows a couple to move ahead sooner. As a result, this provides them with more security and better equipped to handle their future communications and concerns.
Using a team of professionals, trained in the collaborative process, most often saves the clients’ time, money and aggravation. Collaborative divorce will prevent your case from being chewed up by a week-whacker!