If you aren’t interested in arm-wrestling, staring contests, or thumb wars to determine the outcome of your divorce, a new way of resolving disputes has developed, and it emphasizes “trouble-shooting” and “problem-solving” rather than trying to win.
It’s called collaborative law or a collaborative divorce and it’s not for everyone, but if both parties are agreeable to the split, and both can compromise, then it might be right for you. Wikipedia defines “collaborative law as a legal process enabling couples who have decided to separate or end their marriage to work with their lawyers and, on occasion, other family professionals in order to avoid the uncertain outcome of court and to achieve a settlement that best meets the specific needs of both parties and their children without the underlying threat of contested litigation. The voluntary process is initiated when the couple signs a contract (called the “participation agreement”), binding each other to the process and disqualifying their respective lawyer’s right to represent either one in any future family related litigation.”
If you see this as a possibility, collaborative law offers some appealing benefits:
- Saves money and court fees,
- Protects children from unnecessary trauma,
- Allows you to come to an agreement that is best-suited to meet both parents’ needs.
You recover from the broken relationship with a minimum (if any) negative feelings toward the other parent. However, like other forms of divorce that avoid a trial and a minimum of attorney involvement, certain conditions should be met.
Collaborative law might work if both parties:
- Are determined to act respectful toward each other,
- Understand a well-negotiated solution should meet the needs of both sides,
- Will spend time and energy engaging in creative problem-solving rather than trying to gain revenge.
Collaborative law is a new way of dealing with the painful problem of divorce, and it’s obviously not for everyone, and the involvement of children always complicates a divorce. But if both parents can ‘collaborate,’ then it can be a quick, inexpensive and less painful way of divorcing. And the children’s adjustment will be made much easier by seeing their parents still working together in their family’s best interest.
If you think this if for you, the first step is to find a collaborative law agreement, mediator, encouraging the practice. That will vary from state to state, but should be available online.
What has been your experience with collaborative agreements or a collaborative divorce?
Feature image courtesy of franky242, above via iStockPhoto via FreeDigitalPhotos.net.