A divorce does not have to be acrimonious, unpleasant, nasty and bitter leading to months of disputes with only inch-by-inch progress toward resolution. Litigation usually pits spouse against spouse with accusations flung back and forth, while a judge untangles untruths and comes up with a decision that, often, is less-than-satisfying to both parties.
Alternative options to litigation exist in divorce. The “us vs. them” mentality is not an ideal approach for anyone. Are there ways to make things easier and less complicated for everyone involved, especially the children who are watching the family split up? There are, if both spouses commit to discussion without taunts, negotiating without bullying and knowing that resolution is near.
Mediation and collaborative divorce
Having a “healthy” divorce is possible. With a little bit of guidance, divorcing couples can settle their cases themselves without setting foot in a courtroom. Here are some ways:
- Mediation: A third-party mediator facilitates a divorce agreement without making decisions. The mediator often is an attorney who discusses available options, understands the legal aspects and may provide suggestions to the estranged spouses who may have their attorneys present. Productivity is an essential part of the process in which the parties focus on resolution.
- Collaborative divorce: In this problem-solving approach, separated couples commit to working together through open and honest discussion as well as negotiation over matters such as division of assets, child and spousal support and parenting time. Cooperation over confrontation is an important facet. There are no mediators, though. In collaborative divorce, each party must be represented by an attorney, and the participating attorneys must be trained in collaborative divorce. In addition, the presence of other professionals such as financial advisers and a divorce coach is possible.
And, if there are children in the family, extra care must take place during this emotional and even traumatic time for the youngsters. A recent trend known as “nesting” may serve as an option, although a temporary one for living arrangements.
In nesting, the family residence remains the same for the kids. However, each parent takes a turn moving out for a few days at a time. The concept makes it less disruptive to the children shuffling from one house to another. Joint custody arrangements also ensure the continuing participation of both parents in the children’s lives.
Ideally, a healthy divorce is an objective for couples going their separate ways. In avoiding litigation, heated disagreements may disappear, the process is less costly and time-consuming, too. But, if you have children, remember to always put them first.