There Are Less Costly Ways Than Fighting It Out in Court
There are alternatives to fighting your spouse in court in front of a judge, spending your funds that could be better used for your children’s college educations or your financial security in your later years.
Over the years, alternatives to fighting out a divorce in court for a year or more and spending tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars have been developed. These are grouped under the heading of ADR (alternatives to dispute resolution, which is what a court is, after all, “the court of last resort,” and it should be just that!
As opposed to litigation which operates on a win-loss basis (which just doesn’t apply to divorce where no one wins and no one truly loses), alternatives to litigation operates on a win-win principle, namely, that each participant be able to achieve their most important goals in the process. Litigation involves pitting one spouse against the other as one attacks the other as the process ensues over many months or even a year or more, worsening the anger, resentment, and other negative emotions that each might have regarding the other. This results (where there are children involved) in the parents being less able to work with one another toward the goal of raising healthy and independent children who feel loved, supported, and respected by both parents.
One of the oldest forms of ADR is mediation. Mediation involves both spouses meeting together with a neutral, trained mediator whose role is to assist you and your spouse in productive and respectful communication as you work out an agreement on your children, your finances, support, and division of your marital property and debt. This is a less expensive, quicker, and less contentious means of reaching an agreement. A successful mediation results in a signed agreement. Then, should you want to divorce after reaching an agreement, the process in court becomes quick and inexpensive.
A newer alternative to fighting in court is collaborative divorce. This process requires each spouse to retain an attorney trained in collaborative divorce. Attorneys trained in collaborative divorce can be found on the site of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals or by searching collaborative divorce attorneys online. The process involves two spouses or parents, two trained attorneys, and a divorce coach from the social science or mental health field for divorce is like a three-legged stool, it stands on the legs of the law, finances, and emotions. The process proceeds with everyone signing a Participation Agreement laying out the terms of the process such as full financial disclosures, civility and respect. Everyone meets in a series of “five-way meetings” (presently via Zoom). The meetings are structed with an agenda of what is to be discussed. The spouses/parents are encouraged to do most of the talking with the divorce coach being the person who manages the meetings and the attorneys assisting their respective clients through the meetings and the process. (Each attorney and his/her client meet privately before and after each meeting to discuss what is most important to the client so that it can be included in the agenda and addressed in the meetings.) the goal of collaborative divorce is to reach a signed agreement containing terms that address each spouse’s goals, interests, and concerns, a legally binding document that governs the spouses’ rights and obligations going forward as a parent and as a former spouse. As with mediation, once an agreement is signed, divorce becomes quick and easy in court.
Ruminate Before You Litigate
Before you retain a divorce lawyer as a surrogate fighter to attack your spouse and take tens of thousands of your hard-earned dollars, stop for a minute and consider whether you want to try to destroy your spouse (possible the other parent of your children) or a lawyer who can work with you in one of the ADR options to help you achieve your most important goals (legally, financially, emotionally, and as a parent, if you have children) and save you tens of thousands of dollars that you then can use for your children’s educations and your financial security.
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BorgerMatez, P.A. is a law firm that has attorneys trained in mediation and collaborative divorce who can help you through the divorce process with respect, civility, and support for you to best optimize your chances for achieving your goals if divorce is inevitable for you and your spouse. Call at (856) 424-3444 or contact us with this form.