From the desk of the divorce lawyer
THE IMPACT OF DIVORCE ON A BUSINESS
Karin Quirk, Attorney at law, Kirkland, Washington
While ultimately a personal matter, divorce affects business in time, money, and lost productivity. An employee going through an emotionally troubling time may be less productive, miss work and may involve other employees in the drama. Many business also are concerned about revealing private or sensitive information.
When the business owner is the person involved in the divorce process the consequences on the business can be even more dramatic, if not devastating. If the business owner is distracted, the business suffers. The legal discovery process can be as distressing as a tax audit with even greater economic consequences. A small business may also be destroyed by the need to liquidate assets to affect the community property division.
It is in a business owner’s interest to know a divorce attorney sensitive to the affect of divorce on business. An attorney who explores alternatives to the adversarial process and works with the parties on reasonable resolution that allows them to get on with their lives with the least emotional trauma and economic loss.
Divorce happens to roughly half of all married couples and often occurs after ten, twenty or more years of marriage. Many family law attorneys are developing new ways of diffusing the acrimony and trauma of the traditional adversarial process. Gaining popularity across the
Collaborative Law – the new paradigm
In this process, each side is represented by his/her own advocate. The parties and their attorneys agree that they will not engage in the traditional “divorce war” which is the litigated divorce. The lawyers are committed to full disclosure of all assets and to providing advocacy for their clients while maintaining civility with each other.
The “team” may include ancillary professionals: An accountant or actuary may be needed to determine a value of a business or a pension plan; parents may seek guidance from a child mental health professional in developing the parenting plan; and counselors may become involved to improve the communication process. The parties may even choose career counseling for a previously non-employed spouse.
Save time, money, emotional trauma and preserve your privacy
Statistics show that collaborative divorces cost at least one-third less and are completed in a much shorter time than the traditional litigated divorce. The emotional trauma is managed in a compassionate way. The collaborative model encourages parents to put the needs of their children first.
When parents are involved in acrimonious custody battles, not only do the children suffer, but the parties often go to court year after year trying to modify the original plan, often spending hundreds of dollars. In collaborative law the parents provide a method for adjusting the plan for changes in circumstances, thus reducing emotional trauma as well as costs.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of the collaborative divorce to business persons is the privacy this model provides. The financials and all the negotiations remain private. No public record is created which provides embarrassing or misleading details. The final agreement remains private.
It is possible to avoid the divorce wars: www.divorceforgrownups.net
Note: This article was written in September 2006 and first published in Eastside Business Journal. Thank you Joe Kennedy for giving me my start as a commentator on collaborative divorce.