You have decided to divorce and neither party is interested in a long, drawn-out court battle. Is there a healthy and respectful way to divorce? It turns out there is. Both mediation and collaborative law provide a path to divorce that can help families avoid the knock-down, drag-out fight that we often associate with divorce and allow for a dignified future for the parties after family separation. Divorce will always be difficult, but it does not have to be a battle. If there is a "healthy" way to divorce, collaborative law is the way. When a judge decides how to divide property and income between the parties and on what schedule they should enjoy custody of the children, the actual needs of the specific family are often ignored. Wouldn't it be better to sit down with professionals to work out the intricacies of your family separation in a way that best fits your needs? Give your children the future they deserve with two parents who can effectively co-parent and truly put the children first.
Both collaborative and mediation share similar approaches. They are voluntary, confidential processes that focus on the underlying needs and interests of the parties and avoid the win or lose mentality of litigation. Neither process is confined to the laws or what the court might do. Instead, the parties can find solutions that work for their specific situation. The mediation and collaborative divorce process puts a value on peace; on having the ability to sustain a working relationship with your former spouse or partner. This working relationship could prove to be invaluable in the future, particularly if you have children.
So, which path is right for you?
In the mediation process, the parties work directly with a mediator to come to an agreement regarding the division of assets and debts, custody, support, or whatever issues you might face when contemplating family separation. The mediator does not make decisions or side with one party or the other. The mediator’s role instead is to guide, assist, and oversee the process. Attorneys are not necessary for the mediation process, but many people choose to engage with an attorney during or after the mediation process. The cost of coming to a resolution through mediation is generally the least expensive option and can be the fastest and most efficient means to divorce.
Collaborative law is an alternative dispute resolution method in which collaboratively-trained professionals work together and with the participants to come to a resolution of legal disputes without litigation.
This process is private, participant-driven and keeps everyone out of court. By joining the collaborative process, participants strive to work toward solutions that work for their specific situations rather than allowing a third party to dictate that to them.
During the collaborative process, the parties are not confined to the law or how the court may handle the case. Instead, the parties can find solutions that work for their specific situation. The collaborative divorce process puts a value on peace; on having the ability to sustain a working relationship with your former spouse or partner. This working relationship could prove to be invaluable in the future, particularly if you have children.
The collaborative process also avoids the battle-driven court process and puts the outcome in the hands of the parties. Unlike mediation, each party will necessarily be represented by an attorney who is specially trained in collaborative law.
The parties and their counsel work as a team. This team may also agree to bring on a collaboratively-trained financial neutral and/or a mental health neutral. And, at times, other experts are consulted as well. Through the collaborative team, the parties hire one expert together rather than each party hiring an expert, saving time and money as compared to the litigation process. Together the team will work through all of the issues that arise as it relates to the family separation process. This process is most valuable in situations where there are complex financial or custody issues and/or where the parties could use extra emotional or logistical support to navigate the process. The collaborative process can be a bit more expensive than the mediation process, though it is generally much less expensive than the litigation process and can have the healthiest outcomes.
So which process is best for you and your family? Reach out to a mediator and/or collaboratively-trained attorney to hear your options.