If you and your spouse are considering divorce, you may have deep concerns about the financial and emotional fallout of taking your separation to court. You may worry that the legal process will be antagonistic, prolonged and expensive. Worse, a judge’s decree may not reflect your family’s reality.
However, there are options if you would prefer a cooperative rather than a combative divorce. Both mediation or collaboration offers an important alternative to court litigation. In addition to minimizing conflict and costs, either of these forms of alternative dispute resolution may help you to maintain control of the important family and financial decisions.
How does mediation work?
Generally, mediation involves a series of confidential sessions between you, your spouse and a trained family law mediator. During discussions, your mediator acts as a neutral third party. In addition to helping you and your spouse communicate your concerns constructively, he or she may be able to suggest creative solutions to issues ranging from child custody and support to dividing shared property.
How is collaborative divorce different?
You and your spouse may be more comfortable settling out of court with the assistance of legal counsel. In collaborative divorce, you may each retain your own lawyer. However, both sides agree not to pursue litigation but instead negotiate mutually acceptable solutions.
Both collaborative and mediated divorce requires a commitment to communicate honestly and constructively. However, if you and your spouse are willing to work together, these out-of-court alternatives may help you to better navigate the difficult decisions that lie ahead.