It’s very sad when a couple needs to get divorced.
We worry about the children, money, retirement, our homes, our futures. We want to be sure that all those things are protected.
Traditionally, people have gone to lawyers and judges to help them work things out. Few divorcing individuals actually wanted to go to court, but there hasn’t been another way that is perceived as safe. In fact, there are alternatives available, two of which are divorce mediation and collaborative law.
Which cases are appropriate for mediation or collaborative law?
Sometimes, people say that only cases that are friendly can go to mediation or collaborative law. That is not true. I have resolved many cases with marked hostility, cases where the spouses can barely sit in the same room without one crying or one occasionally hitting a wall (literally). Those couples, despite the high level of conflict and emotion, had a commitment to DAMAGE CONTROL, to keeping the nightmare less bad, to a successful recovery from a difficult marriage. Those people often are, despite anger, mistrust, sadness or other emotions, able to recognize that both spouses have to be able to live after the divorce, and that one party struggling to make ends meet will probably not benefit anyone in the end, especially if children are involved.
Those people want to protect their children and their assets. They don’t want to spend their money on legal fees, they want to make the best out of a difficult situation. They are angry but realize that you really can’t get blood in a courtroom, much better to try to move on as safely as possible.
Most cases I see can be resolved in mediation or collaborative law, in a conference room, without a single trip to court.
In both mediation and collaborative law, the parties themselves make the necessary decisions and do not sign on to an agreement that they cannot, or do not plan to, honor. Agreements endure longer and fewer cases find themselves back in court seeking a modification of child support, or an arrangement for something like college expenses that wasn’t talked about in the original litigation.
If you are getting divorced or are thinking about it, one of the best things you can do is to consult with a lawyer not only about your rights on the divorce, but about which process – mediation, collaborative practice (“CP”) or traditional matrimonial practice (“TMP”), is best for you and your family. I offer a consultation of this sort for a flat fee of $250, where I will do my best to steer you to the process that is most likely to work for you.
You may not have the option of staying married to your spouse, but you do have control over HOW to go about getting the divorce. It is not all in the hands of the lawyers.