If you are getting a divorce, you have probably thought about keeping it civil. Just work out the answers to the problems presented and leave the emotion behind. But even if you and your spouse agree to disagree, it can be hard to rein everything in. The system seems set up to increase the acrimony of a divorce and force any minor disagreement into a trial-level issue.
Our legal system is set up to be adversarial, with a winner and a loser. Divorce, especially when you have kids, would ideally be a problem-solving situation. You could learn how to work together with your ex so you can continue to resolve problems in the future.
You can try to negotiate your divorce, but what if your ex’s lawyers won’t settle? A mediator is an option, but only if you both agree to make a good faith effort. Arbitration isn’t much different from a trial. What can you do to reduce the pain of the divorce process?
There is a method called “collaborative law,” and it helps divorcing couples and their attorneys reduce the stress level and stay on track with negotiations. The basic idea of a collaborative law divorce is to take the divorce out of the win/lose space of a divorce trial and move it into a problem-solving model.
But unlike other methods, collaborative law contains an enforcement mechanism. Basically, you, your spouse, your attorney and your spouse’s attorney agree to follow the collaborative law method and negotiate the problems in your divorce, either with or without a mediator. You sign an agreement that you won’t take the issues to court — and your attorneys agree that if the divorce reaches the point where court is inevitable, they will withdraw from the case.
What are some advantages of collaborative law?
As opposed to going to court, collaborative law is generally much less expensive and time-consuming. If you have to resolve issues in court, you may have to wait months to get a trial date.
It takes place in an informal setting and involves free, open and honest communications. This can be much less stressful than a formal trial.
Another benefit is privacy. When you negotiate your own divorce agreement, it doesn’t become part of the public record as it would if you took your case to trial.
Finally, you and your spouse can negotiate for the result you truly want instead of letting a judge pick from a few limited options.
Are you ready to make an agreement from the beginning that you will limit the acrimony of your divorce? If you think your spouse would be, too, contact a divorce attorney who can handle your divorce collaboratively.