Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Attorneys, therapists push for new divorce model -Indiana

News Sentinel 04/19/2005 Attorneys, therapists push for new divorce model


“Divorce is an emotionally charged process. It can be very expensive and can have horrible effects on both children and adults,” Brandt said.

But Brandt, several other attorneys, local magistrates and mental health professionals are spearheading a new program in Allen County advocating what is known elsewhere as “cooperative” and “collaborative” divorce. The new model emphasizes the attorney’s role as part of a multidisciplinary team that includes financial planners, accountants and therapists. The attorney takes on a role of “problem-solver rather than the old warrior model,” Brandt said. “In the traditional model, the attorneys are not really concerned about the clients. They’re there to win.”

In Allen County, 90 percent of divorce cases are settled out of court, but “how much threatening, how much posturing, how much animosity was generated before you reached the settlement?” In most cases, more than any attorney cares to recall, Brandt said.

The pure collaborative law model takes cooperative divorce a step further. The lawyers who enter into the shared commitment agree that if the parties cannot successfully resolve the issues in dispute, both lawyers will withdraw, and new lawyers will be hired to liti-gate the dispute.

“If things don’t turn out well, then they can go back to being the warrior.”

But that warrior approach – parent to parent, attorney to attorney – emotionally damages the child, said Allen Circuit Court Magistrate Craig Bobay.

“Parental conflict is a specific indicator of juvenile delinquency,” said Bobay, who presides over divorce and other family court cases but has handled juvenile cases in the past.

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