If you are a fan of Netflix, or if you watched the Oscars this year, you are familiar with Marriage Story. I stumbled across this movie shortly after it came out and decided to watch it, not knowing anything about the movie or what to expect.
After a short time in, I found myself consumed and horrified. As a family law attorney, what I was watching was hauntingly familiar, and gut wrenchingly accurate, and it confirmed for me, like never before why the attorneys here at Reese Law, Kate, Mario, and myself, practice Collaborative Law—Our clients deserve better than what Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) and Charlie (Adam Driver) were faced with in Marriage Story.
Although Nicole and Charlie had initially wanted an amicable separation and divorce, that ended when Nicole retained an attorney, Nora Fanshaw (Laura Dem), who operated on one dimension; Nora was an aggressive litigator, her main goal being to get as much for her client as possible at the expense of and despite the destruction to Charlie, and their young son, Henry. She did not "hear" her client, and Nora substituted what Nicole wanted with what Nora wanted, which was a win [for herself], because it certainly would not be a win for Nicole, Charlie, and Henry.
Feeling, threatened, Charlie engaged his own aggressive litigator, Jay Marotta (Ray Liotta), and the parties went to Court, publicly exposing their dirty laundry, and in the process, Nicole's and Charlie's relationship was further eroded, and their finances were further strained-all in the name of "winning".
There is no place in the Collaborative Process for an attorney to impose his or her agenda. The parties are center stage, and a win in the Collaborative Process means that both parties move from one stage of their lives into another, with theirs and their children's self-worth, security, and financial resources intact.
In the Collaborative Process, each party is represented by a Collaborative Attorney. It is important not to confuse a Collaborative Attorney with an attorney who is being collaborative. A Collaborative Attorney, practicing Collaborative Law is an attorney who is trained in Collaborative Law and who represents his or her client in accordance with specific protocols within the Collaborative Process. The Collaborative Attorneys who represent the parties:
- Commit, along with his or her client, to work toward resolution outside oflitigation
- Promote and protect his or her client's best interests in an approach that also upholds the dignity and security of the other party and the parties' children
- Treat the other party with respect and civility
- Educate his or her client, with the help of other Collaboratively trained professionals (such as financial neutrals and mental health professionals), to enable the client to make informed decisions
- Commit to the full disclosure of information necessary for the parties to make important decisions for themselves and their children
- Respect, honor, and support the client's self-determination
- Work as part of a team to help the parties reach their best possible outcome
You deserve better than Nicole and Charlie, and your children deserve better as well. You deserve to work in the Collaborative Process, and if you have questions about how we can help you do that, please contact the attorneys here at Reese Law.
By Christine Hissong, Esquire