Arnold Swartz and Associates
Business and Family Mediation
Collaborative Approach to Marital Agreements (CATMA)
CATMA has a two-fold purpose. The first is to help a couple decide whether or not to enter into a marital agreement. If they decide to do so, the second purpose is to assist them in creating the terms of their marital agreement. The goal is to customize an agreement that meets the needs of each partner and is congruent with their shared values and ideals.
Discussion of a marital agreement is often a sensitive issue for couples, especially those entering into their first marriage. If it is approached in an adversarial manner, there is a likelihood of creating misunderstanding and distrust, which can undermine the positive, loving foundation of their relationship. As Judy Barber of Family Money Consultants of San Francisco says, "adversarial positions can tear at the fabric of the relationship." On the other hand, if the prospect of a marital agreement is approached in a collaborative manner, the relationship can be strengthened through a deepened mutual understanding.
There are a number of pressures that come to bear on a couple with a significant financial inequity. The more propertied partner is torn between the primacy of the relationship and loyalty to family, family assets and/or heirs. The less propertied partner does not want to appear greedy, but naturally has concerns about the power imbalance that is a result of the financial inequity. At the same time that they are making a full commitment to being together for the remainder of their lives, they are entertaining the possibility of signing what could become a divorce agreement.
CATMA is designed to address this sensitive issue in a manner that promotes mutual understanding and focuses on mutual benefits, which, in turn, reduces the chances of creating misunderstanding and distrust. The overall process involves education and facilitation. The CATMA facilitator is responsible for guiding the parties through the entire process.
Each party will also seek the advice of independent legal counsel as well as other professional advisors when needed. The attorneys and other professionals need to take an approach that is congruent with this process; that is focusing on mutually satisfactory solutions as opposed to adversarial positions.