When spouses decide to divorce there are often a lot of painful feelings including anger, rejection, depression, helplessness and anxiety. Unfortunately, the traditional divorce process can make this situation worse. Parties start arguing about every issue, feeling like they must win, and the other side lose. Since litigation takes such a long time to resolve, spouses may have years to dwell on these feelings. Worse, the effects linger even after the divorce is finalized.

Psychological impact

Although litigation can resolve financial and custody issues, it doesn’t address the lingering feelings of the parties. Often one or both spouses is left in the fog of divorce and can’t move forward in their personal lives while they hold onto these emotions. The uglier the divorce, the longer these feelings persist.

Financial impact

Litigation is very expensive and the cost of a long drawn out divorce can have a significant impact on the finances of the spouses. The legal fees connected with the litigation process could better be used to help the parties establish separate households, pay for college, saved for retirement or used for a multitude of other purposes that would benefit the spouses and the family finances. Instead in an ugly divorce it is used to pay attorney and court costs.

In addition, in litigation there is often a party who “loses” and who does not get his/her fair share. Each side will have its own financial experts (which costs more money) who will argue over settlement terms. Again, the drive to “win” the case may leave one party with a less desirable outcome, which will continue to impact their finances into the future.

Family impact

Children continue to be affected by divorce long after it is over especially when parents are still experiencing destructive emotions. Ongoing battles over visitation and support, parents bad mouthing each other, damaged relationships with extended family on the other side all hurt children. The question is how to minimize the bad effects.

Collaborative approach

With collaborative divorce, the parties have more control over the divorce process and work together to achieve results that are based on their mutual concessions and the family’s shared interests. Each party has an attorney and receives assistance from an interdisciplinary team of health care professionals and financial neutrals. Health care professionals assist the spouses with identifying impediments to the process and/or raise certain emotional concerns that need to be addressed. This dynamic model allows spouses to find a solution that works for them and their children. It also provides a foundation for spouses to develop an amicable way to relate to each other, so they can continue to deal with issues as they arise in the future.

On the financial end, a financial neutral is involved to analyze and report on financial options for both parties. The financial neutral provides detailed financial planning, organizes documents and explains current and projected income, assets and liabilities. By explaining the options available to the parties, spouses can come to an informed and amicable financial settlement. This assistance enables the parties to prepare for a new economic reality as separate households.

Overall, the collaborative process promotes respect, honesty and transparency so that spouses can resolve their own issues. Collaborative divorce is faster, less costly, fairer and helps the parties to move forward with their lives.

Collaborative divorce is not right for everyone. That’s why it is important to seek out professional help before a choice is made.

Contact me to discuss your divorce options.