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Is Collaborative Divorce the Right Option for Your Family?

Is Collaborative Divorce the Right Option for Your Family?

A contentious divorce can bankrupt a person both financially and emotionally. Under the traditional litigation approach to divorce, each spouse would retain his and her own attorney. Each spouse would retain his and her own financial expert. Each spouse would appear in Court before the judge prepared to argue his or her position to the absolute extreme. And then, each spouse would place their relationship, their children, their assets and their future in the judge’s hands to decide what happens next. In most cases the judge’s decision is equitable and neither party feels as if they have “won.”

Marriages end. It happens. But they do not have to end in war. Think about it, why would you refuse to work with the person you once pledged to share a life with? In most litigated cases, instead of communicating and dissolving the romantic partnership together as a team, often times many couples retreat to their respective sides of the ring and allow a judge to make the tough decisions. You and your spouse likely know the most about your financial estate. You and your spouse likely are the best persons to decide what is in your children’s best interests. Why would you put these decisions in a judge’s hands who does not know your estate and does not know your children?

For couples seeking an alternative approach to litigation, there’s a relatively new method to divorce that has been successful in California: collaborative divorce. Collaborative divorce begins with two spouses making the commitment to resolve their divorce outside of court. Each spouse is represented by an attorney whose goal is not to file motions and appear at hearings, but to work towards resolution. Each spouse has a mental health professional to coach them emotionally. If there are children involved, a mental health professional is retained to coach the children. If the marital estate is large or there is a business asset to divide, the spouses jointly retain an accountant to assist with an equitable division.

While the number of professionals involved in your collaborative divorce may seem excessive, when these professionals are working harmoniously to achieve one common goal the costs are often much cheaper than litigation, where each party feels compelled to amass an arsenal of professionals to advocate for them. The collaborative process is also more efficient. There are no court deadlines or notice requirements. Rather couples can decide how fast or slow to move through the process.

The collaborative process is not right for every divorce. It requires spouses to have a mutual respect for each other, the life they have created, and the partnership they now seek to divide. It requires a commitment to resolution, rather than a desire to demonize and punish your spouse for the wrongdoing you perceive. Lauren D. Berkich is trained in collaborative divorce and mediation. She is a practitioner member of Nevada Collaborative Divorce Professionals and she is a member of the Board of Directors. Lauren is passionate about alternative dispute resolution and would love to speak with you about your case.