A divorce is never easy, not even in the best of circumstances. However, there are bad divorces… and then there are terrible divorces filled with vitriol, lies, accusations, and huge attorney’s fees for never-ending litigation. You may not be able to save your marriage, but you can decide how you want it to end. If you and your husband are both willing to commit to working together to create a fair divorce settlement that you can both live with, then you might be good candidates for a collaborative divorce.
What Is Collaborative Divorce?
A collaborative divorce is a unique method of separating assets and determining child custody that focuses on working together to problem solve in an environment of mutual respect rather than fighting against your spouse and “winning” at all costs.
In a collaborative divorce, both spouses sign a “no court” agreement and commit to working through the collaborative process to design a mutually agreeable divorce settlement. Both spouses retain their own attorneys who guide them through the process. You may also choose to bring in a mental health professional for the spouses and children as well as hire a financial professional, a neutral moderator, and other professionals to help the process along. The couple shares the fees of these professionals, which can dramatically save money in the overall cost for both spouses compared to a litigated divorce.
Are You A Good Candidate for Collaborative Divorce?
Does a collaborative divorce sound like a good option for you? In order to be a good candidate for a collaborative divorce you should:
- Have a spouse who is also willing to commit to a collaborative divorce
- Be comfortable working with and negotiating directly with your spouse. If you feel intimidated or fearful of your spouse, collaborative divorce is probably not a good idea.
- Be able to set aside destructive emotions in order to work productively with your spouse. If you can’t even bear to look at your spouse without wanting to tear his eyes out, then collaboration is probably not best for you.
- Want to end your marriage with respect and integrity. This is especially true if you need to maintain a good relationship with your spouse after your marriage for the sake of your children.
- Desire to protect your children from a messy and emotional divorce. Making this process as painless as possible for your children is often more important than squeezing a little more money out of your spouse after a drawn-out legal battle in court.
- Want to limit the cost of your divorce. Going to court will dramatically raise your legal fees and the overall cost of your divorce.
- Be willing to compromise and let small things go in order to reach an agreement. It can be extremely difficult to set aside your emotions or to let go of small battles that seem important at the time, but that is what collaboration and compromise are all about.
- Be able to treat your spouse with respect and dignity and put yourself in his shoes to understand his perspective.
If you think that you can meet all of these standards, then look for a divorce attorney who has experience or specializes in collaborative divorce. You’ll also need to broach the topic with your spouse to ensure that he is also willing to put in the work that a collaborative divorce requires.
You can learn more about collaborative divorces, mediation, and other divorce options at the Second Saturday Divorce Workshop.