Some problems or barriers, such as a divorce, may seem insurmountable when, in reality, there are creative and positive paths toward a solution, paths that do not involve litigation and trials. Divorce processes such as mediation or a collaborative divorce often are effective tools for finding such solutions. They promote openness and creativity as well as improved communications and co-parenting skills. They help keep personal and financial matters private.
Both processes can involve professionals from other disciplines (such as a child psychology, mental health, business valuation, taxation and finance) if the issues warrant it. For example, a child specialist can help parents decide on a parenting plan and schedule that is best for their children. Or a financial expert can provide tax-saving suggestions and information.
Veronique is a collaborative divorce specialist as well as a mediator. She considers both processes as valuable tools to help her clients. Which approach is best may differ from case to case. Early in the representation, Veronique helps her clients decide on a process that is suited to their situation.
Veronique is a collaborative divorce specialist. She was president of the Collaborative Practice Institute of Michigan (CPIM) from April 2015 to March 2016 and remains on the Board of Directors of CPIM. She is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP), a national organization of collaborative divorce professionals.
In early meetings, Veronique assesses with her client whether a collaborative divorce process is desirable and feasible. It can be a very good choice when, for example, the parties desire to be cooperative but have unequal negotiating skills and knowledge of important facts, when children are involved, or when the case involves complex issues, financial or otherwise. Before engaging in this process, it is important that a client sufficiently trusts that his/her spouse will be honest in disclosures and actions.
In a collaborative divorce, the parties enter into a participation contract and agree to resolve their divorce without litigation. In the relatively few cases where the process does not lead to a settlement and court intervention is needed, the attorneys must withdraw. This framework creates an atmosphere conducive to creative problem-solving. It reduces unpleasant posturing and blaming, all too often present in litigated cases. Though the collaborative divorce attorneys advocate for their clients, they are encouraged to aim for “win-win” and creative solutions, in the best interests of the client and children.
The collaborative divorce process proceeds through meetings with parties and attorneys. Other professionals may participate if the case requires their involvement. Initial tasks tend to focus on disclosures of important information and documents and on resolving interim issues such as when and how to separate and how to handle finances. The process then focuses on negotiations toward a settlement and on drafting and finalizing a divorce settlement agreement. A neutral child specialist (often a psychologist) may educate the parents on their children’s needs and guide them toward age-appropriate parenting plans and resolution of custody issues. A neutral financial specialist may assist in the analysis of financial and tax information and possibly in the valuation of business assets.
Veronique is a mediator of family law cases and civil litigation cases. She has successfully mediated or resolved through mediation numerous divorces and several commercial and business cases. She uses mediation as a valuable and often cost-effective tool to creatively resolve problems and overcome barriers to resolution. She is a court-approved mediator in Washtenaw County for both family law and civil litigation cases.
In some cases, Veronique is the neutral mediator who facilitates divorce settlements, with or without legal counsel present. In that role, she coordinates the exchange of relevant information and documents and she helps the parties find solutions and areas of agreements so that they can reach agreement and enter into a divorce settlement agreement. When children are involved, Veronique helps the parents mediate a family-friendly custody arrangement, along with parenting plans and schedules.
In other cases, Veronique is the attorney who represents and counsels her client while the client engages in a mediation process to resolve the divorce. In consultation and agreement with her client, Veronique determines if and when she needs to attend the mediation sessions. Outside of such sessions, she counsels her client on rights and obligations and on settlement options and may communicate as needed with the mediator. She reviews the settlement agreement, often suggesting improvements.