Part One of a Three-Part Series on Collaborative Divorce

We recently sat down with local attorney Stevan Yasgur to discuss the definition and process of collaborative divorce. As we researched this term, we found there are multiple benefits to the process. Collaborative divorce offers the parties involved enhanced control over the process and leads to less stress, anxiety and frustration for the couple and their children than the traditional process. Collaborative divorce allows a couple to resolve their divorce privately in a discreet manner. Many people find they develop useable insight into themselves and their relationships, which can support them as they rebuild their futures. Divorce is not a pleasant subject in anyone’s life, but the collaborative process can be a much better way to deal with the end of a marriage and to start a new future.

 Here is what Stevan had to say about collaborative divorce.

“A close friend of mine who knows about my law practice once asked me, ‘What is the most important thing you can tell someone who comes in to see you about a divorce?’ Well, it depends, but I would want them to know it’s going to be alright. As the discussion moves forward, I would most probably find that they are living in an unbearable situation. Their situation is bad enough that they are talking to me about an unknown—the divorce—that they would rather not deal with. I counsel them with the fact that the divorce will end someday, and probably soon, and when it is over, they will go on with their life. 

“The people who come to me know that I do mostly collaborative cases, where the couple must agree on what happens before anything can happen. They know that each party must give their spouse a reason to agree with them. More importantly, over the course of the case, they have many opportunities to refine that conversation, discover what is at the heart of their goals and explore different ways to satisfy their spouse’s interests. By the time they reach all their agreements, they have talked everything through—multiple times—and they have a plan they can live with. All discussions were based on their actual situation, not some hypothetical. They have spoken with their lawyer; they understand what the courts can and cannot do.

“If I am talking to someone who just wants revenge on their spouse, I know that person will never succeed, whether it’s in a collaborative case or in court. I tell them that courts are not in the revenge business. Someone who is hurting that badly almost certainly will get more help from a therapist than a lawyer. A client who is most interested in life after divorce, history shows, time and again, that it really will be alright.”

If Stevan’s last name sounds familiar, you might know of a music festival on an upstate farm that took place in 1969. Stevan is the nephew of Max Yasgur, owner of the farm that hosted the historic Woodstock Festival.