When anticipating divorce, many questions arise. Divorce is a process rife with many interrelated legal, financial and emotional issues. After first thinking very carefully about whether to divorce, you should then think carefully about how to divorce. To begin with, you should decide what issues are most important to you about how to divorce. While you may not be the one who has chosen to divorce, you can take control over the method of divorce.
Is it important to you to maintain an amicable relationship with your spouse after divorce?
You may wish to keep your relationship with your spouse amicable for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is your children. When you imagine your future, do you hope to sit at your children’s sporting events, theatrical productions and graduations comfortably? Would you like to be able to dance with your former spouse at your children’s weddings? If so, you would benefit from a non-adversarial divorce method such as collaborative divorce or mediation. Both collaborative divorce and mediation are geared toward resolving the issues of your divorce in a way that enhances, or at least does not undermine, your ability to communicate with your former spouse.
What kind of professionals would you like to work with in the divorce process?
Do you want an aggressive litigator controlling the process? Or would you prefer a person who will consider your values and include you in the process? Are you willing to risk having decisions about your future made by a judge you have never met before? Or do you want to maintain control of your future and your children’s future? Collaborative lawyers and mediators will help you examine your values and will help guide you through the divorce process respectfully. In addition, the collaborative divorce process offers you the option of mental health professionals acting as divorce coaches to support you through the divorce process.
Is saving money important to you?
An adversarial divorce, one with aggressive attorneys involved, is generally much more costly than mediation or collaborative divorce. The adversarial process involves court appearances where you will await your lawyer’s chance to argue motions before a judge. There will be many discussions between your attorney and your spouse’s attorney that are communicated to you after the fact. You are paying for each of these procedures by the hour. There is no need to spend your children’s college fund or your retirement savings on your divorce. If you are comfortable mediating, you can generally divorce quite economically. If you need the support of an attorney by your side through the process, collaborative divorce will save you a significant amount of money as compared with litigation because you and your spouse meet with your two attorneys together in 4-way meetings. You avoid the game of telephone that would otherwise occur where your attorney conveys your thoughts to the other attorney who then conveys them to your spouse, and so on.
Do you value your privacy?
The traditional divorce process entails court appearances where your financial and personal matters are discussed in a public forum. Collaborative divorce and mediation are done in the privacy of an attorney’s office.
Who will you be after divorce?
The prospect of divorce may take up all of your emotional energy at the moment. It may loom in your future and seem never-ending. Fortunately, you will one day complete the process. Who do you want to be when you are done with the divorce? Will the benefit of “winning” by using the most aggressive lawyer in town outweigh the loss of your ability to communicate with your spouse and effectively co-parent your children?
Collaborative Attorney and Mediator