Choosing to Work Collaboratively

Posted on October 29, 2021

When it comes to divorce, the choice you make about the process to use – litigation, mediation or Collaborative Divorce – will be the most significant decision that will affect the course your life and those of your children. People going through divorce often feel powerless to the changes sweeping over their lives. They often feel impatient to “get it over with” and to just get out of the relationship. They often feel impatient with negotiating with their spouse, because, after all, negotiating with their spouse hasn’t worked to fix the relationship. By the time they’re ready to pull the trigger on a divorce, they are often willing to put their case into a court’s hands, rather than vesting the decision-making power in themselves and their spouse.

When you go to court to resolve a child custody dispute, the judge often begins the morning session by admonishing the parties to try to resolve their disputes themselves. Many judges believe that they should avoid at all costs making decisions about the well-being of the children if the parents can work it out for themselves. Going to court is really a solution of last resort.

Collaborative Divorce is a much healthier option for most divorcing families. Collaborative Divorce means that you’re giving up your right to litigate by signing a Disqualification Clause, an agreement that your attorneys can’t represent you if you decide to litigate any part of your divorce case. This incentivizes everyone to get things done at the negotiating table.

You may feel that negotiating with your spouse didn’t get you anywhere during the course of the marriage. So, why would that change during the course of the divorce? What makes Collaborative Divorce so special is that it is common practice to involve a mental health professional in the negotiation process, to help name difficult dynamics and to help the parties move through them. The attorneys, mental health professional(s) and financial neutral(s) work together with the parties as a team, to help the parties resolve their own conflicts.

When you walk into a courtroom, you are handing your power — the keys to your house — to the judge. When you start the litigation process, it can be frightening but also empowering to “fight back” against a dysfunctional dynamic that is damaging to you or your children. Ultimately, however, there is nothing empowering about handing over all of your power to the judge, unless you win all of the relief that you request. The likelihood of that happening in family court is exceedingly low. Judges can often see both sides’ points of view and don’t buy wholesale one person’s narrative over the other’s.

Collaborative Divorce is ultimately a healthier way to resolve problems between you and your spouse. The process might seem like it will take more time, but you will actually have the assistance of a team of professionals to help you navigate your way through the problems. Those professionals will help you and your spouse address imbalances between you so that you can ultimate solve your conflicts.