Process option choices: There are now several different approaches to getting divorced:
- There's the traditional litigation model where you go to court, early and often in many cases.
- Another possibility is sitting around the kitchen table and making decisions like reasonable adults. That won't always work, but it can be great.
- Another option is mediation, where you have a neutral 3rd party working with both spouses to help them reach an agreement, but the mediator cannot give legal advice to either party.
- The newest approach is Collaborative Law where the spouses each hire specially trained attorneys who don't go to court with their clients. Usually, a neutral therapist and a neutral financial advisor help the parties. There is a regular step-by-step process involving a series of meetings to reach peaceful agreements.
- Control over the timing
- Control over the outcome
- Less stress
- Not having to accept arbitrary or standard solutions
- The ability to create out-of-the-box solutions
- Equalizing power
- Needing expert help on children's issues
- Needing expert help on financial issues
- Wanting to be able to speak up in a safe environment
- Preserving relationships between parents
1. Are you willing and able to negotiate, work and compromise with your spouse? In a Collaborative case, keep in mind that the negotiations and work with your spouse take place with a team of two attorneys, a neutral therapist and a neutral financial professional (on financial issues). If you don't want to negotiate and participate, you may want to turn everything to a Judge who doesn't know you and who will probably default to a standard or guidelines approach.
2. You don't get your day in court in the Collaborative process. Instead, you do get to fully express yourself in front of your spouse in a safe environment. Plus, in a Collaborative setting, your opinion and choices matter. You fully participate in fashioning the terms of your divorce. "Your day in court" is not really very valuable. It's mostly symbolic. Stating what you want in court doesn't give any assurance that you will get it.
3. Collaborative Divorces are not cheap, but they're good value. Litigated divorces aren't cheap either. In general, litigation can be a lot more expensive. It usually lasts longer than Collaboration. When experts are used, there are usually two, instead of one. In litigation, you have two attorneys doing things that are done by a single, less-expensive expert in Collaborative cases. Collaborative Divorces utilize resources much more efficiently than litigation generally does.