The Restorative Divorce
Restorative Divorce is a process developed by our mediator and attorney, Erin Birt, after 20 years of working with divorcing and separating parents. Anyone can file for divorce or child support, but Erin's guidance, professional judgment, and experience provides a method and process for parents to forge a better path toward successful co-parenting. The Restorative Divorce Process can be applied before, during, and after a divorce or separation (ex: modifying a parenting agreement or order).
Restorative Divorce Quick Links
Restorative Divorce is an active process that focuses on 1. Accountability, 2. Consequences and 3. Action with the assistance of a neutral professional experienced in family matters. The Restorative Divorce process can be applied in mediation, coparenting services, and legal services.
Since Restorative Divorce is a process and not a specific person, service, or package, Erin and her clients may focus on any of the following steps at any time and not necessarily in the order listed above or below.
Restorative Divorce: The Active Process:
A Restorative Divorce is not a passive reactionary process like litigation. It is an active process designed to build better and lasting relationships between co-parents and the neutral professionals that will be available now, and in the future, to assist your family.
- Accountability – Learn and Address
We will identify and discuss what led to the breakdown of the marriage or relationship. This may occur in a joint or individual session. Courts no longer discuss “fault” or, in other words, the cause of the break down of the relationship, however for many couples this is a necessary step to move forward. Therefore, this is commonly called the “learn and address” step of the Restorative Divorce. This active step is challenging but a necessary step for raising self-awareness and exploring long term resolutions. Afterall, obtaining a divorce decree does not terminate your relationship forever, you will still need to move past the breakdown of the relationship and work to rebuild a co-parenting partnership for the sake of your children.
- Consequences – Prepare and Support
It is important to understand the resulting consequences of staying together or separating and/or divorcing. Acknowledging the consequences to actions, behaviors, and the breakdown of the relationship allows you to adjust and prepare for the future. Therefore, this is the “prepare and support” step of a Restorative Divorce.
The many ways we support you during this step is to provide you with guidance and tasks to complete. Parents are expected to prepare at home by completing various parenting and financial assignments and to show support for all positions or requests by producing documentation, research, or professional recommendations at the various group circles.
The tasks not only prepare your family for the separation or divorce, it also teaches you how to manage your own affairs after the separation or divorce.
- Action – Plan for the Future
Anyone can file paperwork to get a divorce, but those using The Restorative Divorce process will face the future confidently. Unlike Collaborative professionals or litigation attorneys that end their services for various reasons, there is no abrupt end or abandonment in a Restorative Divorce. The professionals outlive the initial process, the education you have gained outlives the process, and both will help you long after the ink is dry on the divorce papers. The Restorative Divorce process educates you about your future needs with every task performed during the divorce process, for example:
- Addressing past hurts? You learn to let go and/or not behave in the same way in the future and you teach your children accountability, forgiveness, and appropriate communication.
- Preparing financial disclosure affidavits? It helps you plan for a future budget and gather information for future estate planning.
- Team Approach - Utilizing neutral professionals experienced in family matters
The many ways we help you gain clarity about accountability and the consequences of a separation or divorce (not all apply to all cases) is to involve a team of neutral professionals either within the firm our outside of the firm. You might experience the following in a Restorative Divorce process:
- Joint and/or Individual Meetings with our staff
- Discernment Counseling Referral
- Divorce or Parent Coaching Sessions
- Mental Health Professional Referral
- Certified Divorce Professional Referral
- Family Mediator Referral
- Retain a retired Judge for a Resolution Recommendation
- Petition a Judge for a neutral private Pretrial Conference
- Seek a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage or Parenting Order in Court - either by agreement or after a trial.
- How can the neutral professionals help after a divorce or separation?
The professionals that help you organize information? They are familiar with your family and can be a resource at any time in the future.
Attorney/Legal Services: Help with annual review of your parenting plan and financial support and assist with the preparation of any needed court orders for permanent parenting plan modifications
Child Specialists: Help with milestones and growing up through various co-parenting challenges
Therapists – Help parents process a long term partnership for the benefit of the children
Financial Professional – Help with the complex annual tax filings, review of child support calculations, budget planning, buying a new house.
Estate Planning: Help change beneficiaries or create a new estate plan to benefit your children
Parenting Coach – Help with ongoing parenting communication and identification of parenting issues before it rises to the level of court involvement.
- How is Restorative Divorce different than Collaborative Divorce?
The professionals do not have mandatory training and are not required to be in a limiting "practice group" and can be your existing mental health professional, clergy, and/or accountant. Our firm can also provide you with trusted referrals to help build your team. Additionally, the professionals that participate in your Restorative Divorce Process out live your divorce process and can remain a valuable resource after the divorce or separation. In Collaborative Divorce, all professionals must withdraw or refrain from providing other services for the family once the Collaborative Participation Agreement is terminated or the Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage is entered by a Court.
We offer several options for fees including flat fee packages and hourly rate services for issues that need a higher level of support. Below are examples of average fees per person per month.
Contact our office to set up either a free introductory telephone call, a joint orientation, or a paid consultation.