There are options available for couples who wish to bring an amicable end to their marriage.. Two of these processes, which aim to dissolve a marriage through teamwork and mutual respect, are collaborative divorce and mediation. For a couple looking for alternatives to litigation, each has its own pros and cons.
Collaborative divorce originated in the Midwest in the 1990s. In just thirty years, however, it has become a recognized method in the United States, the United Kingdom, and throughout the British Commonwealth. In a collaborative divorce, attorneys for each partner meet to discuss custody issues, alimony, and asset division. The “collaboration” between the attorneys, each working in the best interest of their respective client, is intended to produce a divorce settlement that both parties can agree on and benefit from.
Mediation has a much wider public profile and a longer history of practice. In meditation, the couple meets together with a mediator, who does not necessarily have to be a lawyer. Psychologists, marriage and family therapists, and social workers sometimes also function as family law mediators. In the course of ten hour-long sessions or so, the couple works together, with the mediator as a moderating influence, to nail down the details of their own divorce.
When choosing which of these methods to pursue, or whether litigation may actually be the best option, couples have to carefully examine their personal circumstances and goals for the divorce process. To generalize, however, if you have serious doubts about your ability to work in a constructive and cooperative manner with your spouse, but still wish to avoid litigation, collaborative divorce may be an option for you.
Whether your interactions with your soon-to-be-ex are just disagreeable, or whether you have been subjected to spousal abuse, collaborative divorce may benefit you by keeping you out of unpleasant or unsafe interactions with the other party. Moreover, while mediators do not necessarily have knowledge of the law, you do not need to worry about the legal knowledge of a lawyer admitted to the bar. Once details are settled, your lawyers can even help file the divorce petition with the courts and handle any issues that may arise beyond that point.
Involving not only one, but two, lawyers, collaborative divorce tends to be much more expensive than mediation. However, when significant assets are involved or one partner is hiding assets to avoid their equitable distribution, the experience of a lawyer more than pays for itself. In the collaborative divorce process, spouses have less direct involvement and less direct control over the negotiations. Even though lawyers are sworn to work in the best interest of their client, some people are more “hands-on” in their approach and would prefer to know all the details of a particular negotiation session for their own peace of mind.
Call our office today to discuss whether collaborative divorce is the right fit for your family situation.