Let’s face it. Divorce is a very trying process. The person to whom you said “I do” now says “I won’t,” and your life is turned upside down. But you don’t need to make the experience more traumatic by going through a nasty court-based divorce.
It is becoming the opinion of more attorneys and mental health professionals that the best way to go through divorce is via the collaborative process. Collaborative divorce is a private way of resolving disputes. Each spouse hires their own attorney who commits to treating both spouses with respect and dignity. The husband’s attorney advises the husband, and the wife’s attorney advises the wife, but they try to develop options that restructures the family in the least destructive manner possible. Further, the attorneys are contractually barred from bringing contested issues in front of a judge, so they will not be conducting opposition research or take other tactics which tend to tear families apart.
To help with communication, a facilitator is retained. The facilitator makes certain that the spouses focus on the future and what is most important to them (for example, the children) rather than obsess over past grievances and try to make the other spouse look bad. The skills taught by the facilitator will help them resolve arguments respectfully even after the divorce is finalized.
In many cases, a financial professional is retained to analyze the parties’ finances and propose options for child support, alimony, and the division of assets and debts more efficiently and less costly than were that work left to the attorneys. Invariably, one of the spouses is less financially savvy then the other; the financial professional can teach that spouse about financial planning, budgeting, and/or tax issues, so that spouse is better prepared to transition from being married to living on his or her own.
If you can save your marriage through counseling or by going to clergy, you should do so. But if you have to go through divorce, the best way to do it is through the collaborative process.
Adam B. Cordover is President of Next Generation Divorce, a group of approximately 70 attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals dedicated to helping divorcing spouses end their marriage without destroying their families.