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What is an alternative divorce?

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ATLANTA, Ga. -

At least 50 percent of married couples will get a divorce. Over the years it's been done in the same manner -- two clients and two lawyers.

A custody battle, a fight over finances, and anger could make the divorce proceedings extremely nasty. Usually one side loses, perhaps both. But what if both sides could win? The Furneys say they won by taking an alternative route to get a divorce.

Anna and Chris Furney play tennis together, have three great kids, and share a busy online calendar. They are not married. They're happily divorced.  

"It's taken, obviously, many years to get to this," said Chris Furney.

They split in 2007 in what they both say started out extremely contentious.

"It looked really bad then. I mean, it was, there were some really cloudy days, some really awful days," said Chris.

They did finally agree on one thing they didn't want; a Furney family sequel to the 80s black comedy, War of the Roses. The Gurneys re-wrote the script and chucked the traditional divorce lawyer. They went with something more couples are doing; a divorce that is called integrated, innovative, sometimes collaborative.  

"It's a collaboration, it's not combat," said Anna Furney.

Instead of pitting one side against another in a lawyer's office, everyone sits down together. No lawyers are present. Instead, it's a financial planner and a family counselor.  They work for both sides to come up with a divorce plan that everyone can live with.

"They give you approaches for solving disagreements, just, you know, to try to let the emotion dissipate. And then if we couldn't decide they would have us step back and understand, like, really how important is this to you," said Chris.

With no court deadlines, they worked slowly on a plan to figure out what to do with the house, their retirement fund and custody options. Once a plan was formed, they did a test drive.

"We tried different schedules with the kids changed those up a little bit. We got to practice pick ups and drop offs," said Chris.

Bob Bordett is a financial planner who runs Divorce Innovations where the goal is to get divorcing couples to work together.

"I have a couple that is just really starting the process. They met the other day and they were talking about certain issues and living arrangements and all of a sudden a light went off, 'Oh, you know what, we can do this and we can do this, and here's how we handle that.' Something they've never thought of," said Bordett.

The Furneys say they were never able to save their marriage but this kinder, gentler divorce helped them save their relationship.

"And now we're actually able to treat each other with a lot of respect and we've actually become friends again," said Anna.

The Furneys say they spent a total of three hours with attorneys to finalize their plan. It was a plan they agreed to. They feel like they saved a lot of money going this route.

Here are a few links to organizations that offer alternative divorces:

DIVORCE INNOVATIONS

ATLANTA COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE ALLIANCE

COLLABORATIVE LAW CENTER OF ATLANTA

STEARNS, MONTGOMERY & PROCTOR

NORA KALB BUSHFIELD

EVIN SOMERSTEIN

REBECCA HOELTING, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY

MARY BETH HEBERT

DIVORCE MONEY MATTERS: LISA C. DECKER

APPLIED DIVORCE SOLUTIONS

DIVORCE FINANCIAL PLANNERS

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