When it comes to divorce, the journey can be dominated by a certain “f” word: friction.
But thanks to Sandra Young and Brian Garvey, a pair of Naperville attorneys who have developed a streamlined process known as The Weekend Divorce, vastly different words describe their approach to untying the marital knot: fast and fair.
That is the assessment of Paul S., who calls his Weekend Divorce experience a great way to conclude what had been a painful process.
“It was fast, it was fair, and it had a fixed fee—so we knew what our legal costs would be,” he said. “Both Brian and Sandra are fair people and good to work with. Their hearts are in the right place and they are clearly trying to do the right thing.”
At the time of his Weekend Divorce, Paul was 51 and the couple had been married for 24 years. Their three children were 16, 17 and 20 years old, and the agreement he reached with his ex-wife sorted through a host of issues, including maintenance and covering the children’s college education costs.
The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, with more than 5,000 members in 24 countries, knows of no other attorneys who are using a model like The Weekend Divorce.
A centerpiece of Young and Garvey’s model is booking a hotel conference room for two days and negotiating every detail of the divorce agreement and signing all documents by the time the couple leaves on Sunday. Both attorneys assess a flat fee for their services.
In public presentations they have made throughout the region, Young and Garvey have discussed the pros and cons of different methods of getting a divorce, provided background about collaborative law and shared details about The Weekend Divorce.
The duo’s shared passion for helping couples move on with the rest of their lives, as harmoniously and as efficiently as possible, sparked The Weekend Divorce concept.
When a couple walks away from a divorce, the legal portion is completed but the “real divorce” has only begun, according to Paul. In that respect, The Weekend Divorce is extremely significant because it enables you to move on with your lives without “a sour taste in your mouth,” he said.
A mid-level executive with a Fortune 500 company in the Naperville area, Paul knows people who endure months of a divorce process, including coworkers who are embroiled in “constant back and forth between attorneys and constant interruptions to their schedules.” That drawn-out approach creates a breeding ground for multiple spats that come at a financial and emotional cost, he noted.
“You may fight over $10,000 and incur $20,000 in attorney’s costs on top of that,” he said. “It felt good to get it over with quickly. I was relieved to just move on.”
One of the distinguishing features of collaborative divorce is that both parties pledge to work together respectfully, honestly, and in good faith to resolve issues and reach agreements beneficial to everyone involved.
In their work, Young and Garvey each advocates solely for one individual.
Collaborative Divorce (aka Collaborative Law or Collaborative Practice) is a “no-court-client-centered” dispute resolution process that separating spouses can use with the help of specially trained and licensed legal, mental health and financial professionals.
Acrimonious divorces tend to be drawn-out, expensive propositions, but many partings would qualify as Weekend Divorce candidates, according to Young and Garvey.
Both attorneys have extensive experience working in collaborative divorce. Combined, they have represented couples more than 80 times, including three occasions in which they worked together as a team for divorcing couples.
Ending a marriage efficiently requires both parties to provide the same level of documentation as any other divorce case.
“The standard divorce case drags on, often unnecessarily,” Garvey noted. “With The Weekend Divorce, we simply accelerate in a few days what typically takes months, if not years.”
“This is not the flip side of quickie marriages,” he cautioned. “The Weekend Divorce is for those who after careful consideration agree that it is time to end their marriage.”
A pivotal document that guides couples, in advance of The Weekend Divorce, is a financial checklist in which they gather copies of statements ranging from tax returns, paycheck stubs, bank accounts and life insurance policies to mortgages, automobile debt and real estate appraisals. That paperwork must be furnished to the attorneys at least 10 days before the weekend divorce session.
A former DuPage County Assistant State’s Attorney, Young began her private practice in 2007. Her practice is now focused on non-adversarial divorce, real estate and estate planning.
With nearly 35 years of experience working in human resources, and nearly 30 years concurrently as an attorney, Garvey has tackled personnel issues through all levels of business.
For more information about The Weekend Divorce, visit www.TheWeekendDivorce.com or call 630-853-6981.