Divorce is a major life change for you and your children, but it doesn’t have to be conflict-laden or emotionally devastating. Although most people think that divorce is characterized by a nasty and drawn-out courtroom battle, it is actually possible to end a marriage in gentler ways that protect the children and preserve the dignity of your relationship with your former spouse. These alternatives to traditional litigated divorce are known as mediation and collaboration.
Divorce mediation is a process in which a couple works with a neutral, third-party mediator to reach an agreement on all key aspects of the divorce, such as spousal support, custody of minor children, and division of marital assets and debts. Unlike judges, mediators do not impose an outcome on either of you: his or her role is to help you reach resolutions that are appropriate to your unique needs and circumstances.
Although mediation is not a courtroom process, you and your spouse will each retain your own, independent legal counsel (often called “reveiw counsel”) to consult with you prior to your signing the final settlement agreement.
Collaborative divorce is another process that allows you and your spouse to reach a divorce settlement without appearing in court. Each of you will hire an attorney with specific training in collaborative divorce, and there may be other neutral third parties involved, such as a coach who will help you both tread through emotionally heavy issues (e.g. child custody) or a financial planner who will guide you in the direction of smart financial decisions.
The collaborative process requires you, your spouse, and your respective attorneys to sign an agreement that calls for both attorneys to withdraw if the threat of litigation arises or you fail to reach a settlement.
Some Advantages to Mediation and Collaborative Divorce
The advantages of these alternative divorce processes include:
- You remain in control of the divorce because you, and not a judge, are making the decisions
- Agreements may be reached more quickly, which can reduce emotional toll and expense
- A more positive long-term relationship with your former spouse, which is important when children are involved
- A gentler transition for the children, as conflict and hostility are minimized
- More privacy
When it comes to divorce, you and your spouse have options other than the traditional route of litigation. Which one you should choose depends on your situation, as every couple is different. If you truly believe that you and your soon-to-be-ex can cooperate in reaching a settlement, mediation or collaborative divorce could work very well for you. If you cannot agree on important issues, however, or, if, for example, there is a history of domestic violence in your relationship, then a litigated divorce may be a more appropriate solution.
If you are thinking about getting divorced in Connecticut and want to explore the possibilities of mediation, collaborative divorce, or traditional litigation, contact Freed Marcroft today. We have years of experience in all three divorce processes and will help you select an option that matches your needs and circumstances.