While litigated divorce was once the norm, today many American couples are looking to settle their separation out of court. During the collaborative divorce process, each spouse may retain his or her own lawyer, but all parties involved agree to negotiate rather than litigate.
In addition to potentially saving time, stress and money, collaborative divorce often gives spouses much more control over important decisions ranging from property division to child custody and support.
1. Less emotional conflict
Unlike litigation, which pits one spouse against the other, negotiation, compromise and problem-solving are at the heart of the collaborative process. Attorneys trained in collaborative law may be able to help spouses pinpoint areas of conflict and suggest creative solutions that both spouses are comfortable with.
2. More time to make big decisions
Though litigation often takes longer than collaboration, going to court often involves rigid deadlines. Collaborative divorce allows spouses to work through their separation on their own schedule. That may mean more time to take stock of finances and consider important questions about how the future will look.
3. More control over the outcome
When a divorce goes the court, a family law judge may have the final say about crucial issues, including how to divide assets, who will have custody or visitation rights and how much support is appropriate. Often, neither party is pleased with the results. During collaboration, attorneys may give advice, but the final decision depends on both spouses agreeing to the outcome.
Collaborative divorce takes honesty, effort and a willingness to put past differences aside. However, for couples who are ready to move forward, collaboration may offer a pathway that minimizes costs and conflict.