A dear friend of ours who works in a different area of divorce had just been introduced to us. Another friend was getting divorced....and he suggested that we talk with this now friend as a prospective referral source. We were not really looking at divorce as a "niche" at that time...but rather just adding this gentleman to our list of resources....and perhaps he may be able to refer a person or two to us to list their home.
It was very cold and I remember snow falling and hoping we would be able to park near the office which was quite near the lake and wind and snow were whipping around pedestrians who ventured thru the business district. We brought a folder with our information and business cards and learned of his business experience and he of ours. He explained that not all divorces were "traditional" and involved litigation ...there was also something we were not aware of called "Collaborative Divorce." This process was a peaceful, common sense resolution...to the disolution of a marriage.. Couples agree to disagree. It is not as some people may imagine...there is anger and hurt as there would be naturally in this process...but the resolution is done with dignity and with "rules" involving other professionals...like social workers and financial advisors who work as a team for the best possible resolution emotionally and financially for the divorcing couple. Our new friend was an officer of this organization and said that they were considring a category of membership called " Affiliate Members." The Affliliate members were required to attend a training session and become more knowledgable about the process. We elected to attend the training...become the first affliate members and as the years went on....sponsored events and participated in the organization.
The members of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Wisconsin (CFLCW ) , also of course practice traditional divorce with more contentious couples and we are trained to work with both types.
The first couple referred to us in addition to getting divorce, was also upside down in a house that they had just built...the landscaping not quite
complete....a large home with a country setting and a longer than usual commute for most people in the area. The design was well done ...very contemporary and we toured the home with the "almost ex" wife and took copious notes as she explained the custom design on our tour.
In Wisconsin, you only legally need one signature of a divorcing couple on a listing contract. We decided from the beginning of our eventually to be "niche" in divorce that we would only work with couples who had both signed the lisiing contract. This makes logical sense to us because both parties have to sign the offer and need to agree to all the terms of the contract. On that basis, we proceeded to explain this "practice" as though we had done it a zillion times to Mrs. Seller and she understood and signed all of the paperwork necessary to list the property. We knew from the beginning that this would be a short sale and explained to her what that involved and left her our folder of information and invited her to call or email at anytime if she had questions. We had done short sales....taken training in both Florida and Illinois and were confident that closing would not be an issue....if we could just get thru the divorce part of the transaction.
On to meeting Mr. Seller and explaining the short sale process, having him sign all the paperwork and getting the home listed. When he was presented with the listing contract alreaady signed by the not soon enough to be EX Mrs. Seller...the anger surfaced....and in a loud voice he said, "She signed on the top line of the contract just to p....me off.... I am not signing the same contract she signs !" Oh for joy.....or not....! Yes this as a luxury listing...we had grand plans to showcase it with a custom marketing plan...but this could make things difficult. Fortunately....what is also true...is that each person in the transaction....Sellers or Buyers need not sign the same contract...they just must sign IDENTICAL contracts.
Like good scouts...we were prepared and had another blank contract we could complete so he could sign his own identical listing on whichever line he chose.
The rest....to coin the cliche is ....history....hundreds of divorce related transactions later....we are practicing in a niche in which we continue to learn with every transaction....and wish for each member of the couple that they will find their happily ever after and that we are honored to be of service for that transaction as well.