While any divorce matter can be approached aggressively, litigation is typically not a client’s most desirable alternative when it comes to the dissolution of their marriage. Pursuing a divorce through the Court system is slow, expensive, emotionally exhausting and no outcome can be guaranteed in any case.
However, since a husband or wife only control one half of the equation, sometimes litigation is necessary. In situations involving abuse, financial manipulation, mental health issues and other difficult circumstances, litigation may be the only option. If a case goes to court, good communication between the attorney and client is critical, as the court process can often be confusing and convoluted.
Mediation is a good option for parties who desire a more amicable alternative to litigation, but still need assistance in communicating with the other party in order to facilitate a resolution that is acceptable to both people.
In mediation, parties meet together with a neutral third party who acts as the mediator. The mediator may be an attorney, a former judge or a mental health professional. The mediator is there to facilitate the communication so that parties can reach an agreement between themselves. The mediator cannot represent both parties, cannot give legal advice and will not weigh in on who he or she thinks is the more reasonable party. Therefore, it is advisable for each party to have an attorney when participating in mediation, whether the attorney is present in the mediation or available for consultation before, during and after the session. If an agreement is reached in mediation, the attorneys will draft an agreement memorializing the agreement terms in a format that will be entered with the Court.
Collaborative divorce is a process in which the parties work with a team of specially trained professionals to resolve all aspects of their dissolution of marriage outside of court. Each party is represented by an attorney trained in the collaborative process, and the attorneys work together to determine what other professionals will be added to the team.
These other professionals can include financial planners (financial neutrals), mental health professionals (divorce coaches) and child specialists. All members of the collaborative team are committed to resolving the matter outside of court and will sign an agreement stating that if the process fails, the parties must retain new professionals to represent them when they proceed in court. This process focuses on identifying the goals and concerns of each party, and addressing those to the greatest extent possible in the final resolution. While initially it may seem like hiring multiple professionals would make things more costly, divorces settled by way of the collaborative process are typically more amicable, less expensive and less likely to experience post-divorce conflict.