NON-ADVERSARIAL DIVORCE

Changing the way people divorce or separate by reducing conflict and improving the lives of family members

The Connecticut Council for Non-Adversarial Divorce (CCND) is the statewide non-profit professional organization of Connecticut mediators and collaborative divorce practitioners. Our membership includes attorneys, mental health professionals and financial specialists. CCND’s mission is to promote peaceful, respectful and private divorce processes throughout Connecticut. CCND also promotes non-adversarial conflict resolution with the aim of increasing awareness of non-adversarial alternatives to litigation, and changing public expectations about divorce.

DIVORCE MEDIATION

Divorce Mediation is a process that fosters discussion between the divorcing couple with the help of a neutral third party, the mediator. A mediator acts as a facilitator, helping people in conflict explore options and find a settlement that works for everyone involved, but does not make decisions for you. In mediation, the emphasis is on maintaining communication between you and your spouse.

The goal is to develop a tailored divorce agreement that will be submitted to the family court at the end of the mediation process, but will keep contact with the court as brief as possible. Once you’ve reached agreement with your spouse, the legal part of the divorce is a simple process. Divorce mediators may be attorneys who have experience in divorce cases, or they may be professional mediators who are not attorneys, but who have training specifically in the area of family court matters.

COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE

Collaborative Divorce is a non-adversarial process in which you and your spouse each hire a specially-trained collaborative divorce attorney to represent you and negotiate an agreement. Both parties make a pledge that the attorneys will withdraw if an agreement cannot be reached. Once the collaborative divorce starts, the lawyers are legally disqualified from representing you and your spouse in a contested legal proceeding.

Collaborative Divorce protects privacy and confidentiality, and allows for an agreement without court intervention. Although the process is much gentler and well-received by those who embrace it, the divorcing parties must be willing to work honestly, openly, and in good faith to arrive at a fair resolution without court involvement.

Frequently Asked Questions

I want a peaceful divorce. Now what do I do?

The first step is to talk with your spouse about your decision to divorce.  If communication problems interfere with talking candidly about this, then you can use a divorce coach (also known as a CCND mental health professional), to facilitate the difficult conversation with your spouse about your decision to divorce.

Spouses often arrive at the decision to divorce in very different time frames.  In Connecticut, it only takes one person to decide to divorce.  If you wish to mediate or collaborate, it is in your best interest to allow your spouse some time to adjust to the prospect of divorce. If your spouse is reluctant to participate, you can suggest a consultation with a CCND professional who can clarify the processes and your options.

People often believe that the divorce process must begin with a marshal serving court papers, which can be stressful.  In non-adversarial processes you will not need a marshal and you can avoid court until the end of your divorce.

Can we mediate or collaborate if we fight all the time?

Divorcing couples rarely get along, but that does not mean that litigation is your only (or best) option. You can end your marriage without litigation if you have the same goal in mind: divorcing while minimizing the emotional and financial impact on your family and staying out of the courtroom. CCND professionals are trained to help you focus on resolving the issues and not get sidetracked by the past.

How do we know whether mediation or collaborative is a better process for us?

There is no simple answer to this question, but your CCND professional can help you evaluate your options and choose the process that fits your family best.

Best time to start…

The best time to meet with a mediator or collaborative professional is before you separate.  Your mediator or collaborative team can help you create interim plan that works for your family and budget, and addresses the difficulties of transitioning out of your marriage.  Even if you have already separated or begun the litigation process you can still choose to pursue a non-adversarial path to divorce.

My spouse has a very strong personality. How can I be sure my interests are taken into account?

CCND mediators are trained to keep the conversation balanced and allow each person to have a voice.  We do this by giving each person uninterrupted time to speak, helping people work through strong emotions, and creating space in the conversation which allows for creative and thoughtful problem-solving. 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.

Why do I need to hire more than one professional?

Different professionals bring different skills to the table.  Utilizing a team with the right combination of skills will be more effective and cost-efficient than old-fashioned litigation.  For families with young children a child specialist help develop age-appropriate parenting plans.  If there are closely held business interests a financial professional will be indispensible in creating a responsible financial plan for your family.

Do we still have to go to court?

Your final agreement, which should be reviewed by an attorney, must be approved by a judge.  Through mediation or collaborative divorce that process will be a simple, uncontested procedure that does not require a trial or contentious hearings.

Mediation and Collaboration is fair and legally enforceable

If you are divorcing or separating, we are a multi-faceted resource for you to learn about your options.  By making the right choice in the beginning, and choosing to mediate or collaborate rather than litigate the end of your marriage, we can help prevent a bitter, endless or expensive struggle; create a respectful process for you and your children; and work out a fair, legally enforceable settlement.

We offer a free searchable database to locate a mediator, collaborative divorce practitioner or other divorce professional. This list includes individuals from the legal, mental health and financial professions.
 

Comparison of Divorce Options in CT

QuestionMediationCollaborationLitigation
WHO CONTROLS THE PROCESS?You and your spouse control the process and make final decisions.You and your spouse control the process and make final decisions.Attorneys control process and a judge makes final decisions if you cannot agree.
PRIVACYThe mediation process and negotiations are conducted privately.The collaborative process and negotiations are conducted privately.Litigated disputes are conducted in an open court.
DEGREE OF ADVERSITYYou and your spouse pledge mutual respect and openness.You and your spouse pledge mutual respect and opennessThe court process assumes that you cannot communicate without fighting.
INVOLVEMENT OF LAWYERSMediators do not represent you and do not appear in court. CCND recommends that you hire outside attorneys as review counsel.You and your spouse each retain lawyers who assist in developing an agreement. Your lawyer looks after your interests while working with your spouse’s lawyer.Lawyers fight to win, which comes at a financial and emotional cost for everyone.
USE OF OUTSIDE EXPERTSJointly retained specialists provide information and guidance, helping you and your spouse develop informed, mutually beneficial, solutions. Jointly retained specialists provide information and guidance helping you and your spouse develop informed, mutually beneficial solutions.Competing experts are hired to support the litigants’ positions, often at great expense.
FACILITATION OF COMMUNICATIONSkilled mediators effectively facilitate communication between you and your spouse.Your team of collaborative specialists educate and assist you and your spouse on how to effectively communicate with each other. Divorce coaches specialize in facilitating communication.You and your spouse negotiate through your lawyers, often impairing communication with your spouse
TIMETABLEYou and your spouse create your timetable.You and your spouse create your timetable.You are subjected to the timetable of the court. Delays are common, both in court and between appearances.
COSTUsually the least expensive model, because you are utilizing a single professional.Costs are manageable, usually less expensive than litigation; the team model is cost-effective in its use of financial and mental health professionals.Costs are unpredictable and can escalate rapidly, including frequent returns to court during and after your divorce.
CHOOSING YOUR APPROACHBoth spouses agree to participate in a respectful and positive process.Both spouses agree to participate in a respectful and positive process.The legal process begins with a Marshal serving papers, and can often involve repeated court dates and Orders.

CCND – A GOOD DIVORCE

Term Definitions

Review Counsel

An attorney you hire for advice and guidance through the mediation process, and who will review your mediated agreement with you before it is finalized.

Divorce Coaches

Mental health professionals who are specially trained to facilitate the collaborative process, and create developmentally appropriate parenting plans.

Court Orders

Decisions made by a judge that are legally binding on you and enforceable through the inherent powers of the Court.