Frequently Asked Questions
Divorcing couples often do not get along. You can successfully end your marriage without litigation if you have the same goal in mind: divorcing without further emotional and financial damage to you or your spouse, and staying out of the courtroom. A mediator or collaborative professional is trained to help both of you focus on the issues and not be sidetracked by past events.
In choosing mediation, the couple agrees to work with one mediator in a proven conflict-resolution system to reach an equitable agreement. The three of you meet regularly to discuss issues such as division of property, child and spousal support and child custody. In Collaborative Divorce, each spouse retains his or her own attorney, and the four of you meet to discuss the issues. If you decide not to pursue a Collaborative Divorce, both attorneys must withdraw. Each case is unique. You may find it most helpful to meet with a mediator and a collaborative attorney first before deciding which method will be best for you.
Divorce affects your life in many different ways, and having a team of professionals to help you avoid the pitfalls can actually save you money in the long run. Even the very best mediators and collaborative attorneys may not have all the skills you need to resolve a complicated situation, and their hourly rate may be higher than other professionals, such as a therapist or an expert in child development, for example.
Regardless of what caused the end of your relationship, both you and your spouse are going through an emotional adjustment. Psychologists have likened this process to the grieving process after the death of a loved one. If you and your spouse are in different stages of emotional adjustment, you may want to allow a little time to pass before negotiating anything but a temporary arrangement. A mediator can help with the temporary agreement, and that may lead your spouse to a better understanding of how the process works. If financial funds are limited, then your spouse may be able to see the benefit of the cost-savings in a typical mediated or collaborative process divorce. Last, setting up initial meetings with one or more mediators to find a good fit may convince a reluctant spouse to give it a try.
Mediators are trained to keep one spouse from overpowering the other, by giving each uninterrupted time to speak, by assisting people to work through very strong emotions, and sometimes stopping the conversation and sending both parties to think about a possible resolution before returning to the table. No case is too complicated for mediation, although you may choose to use a Collaborative Divorce professional so you each have your own legal representation.
Ideally, you’ll want to meet with a mediator or collaborative professional before you separate, to help create temporary parenting arrangements, for instance, and keep your relationship from deteriorating. But even couples already in litigation have made the decision to stop and turn to a more peaceful approach to ending their marriage.
Your final agreement needs to be reviewed by an attorney and presented in court, but through mediation or collaborative divorce, that contact will be brief and manageable. The legal part of the divorce will be a simple, uncontested procedure that doesn’t require a trial or contentious hearings.