When couples go through a divorce, everyone suffers. The sense of normalcy that forms the bedrock of family life disappears for everyone involved, and this can be especially traumatizing to the children. A stressful litigated divorce heightens the tension that already exists as the two sides end up fighting over everything from property division to child custody.
For New York residents who wish to explore a less adversarial way to resolve conflicts than the traditional courtroom divorce, collaborative divorce has become more available in recent years as a type of alternative dispute resolution that helps couples to resolve issues while maintaining a decent relationship that can help them be better co-parents after the divorce is over. This method is also less expensive than litigated divorce, takes less time, and private.
The collaborative divorce method
Unlike a mediation, where clients sometimes go to a mediator without their lawyer present, a collaborative divorce involves the attorneys for both sides as part of an interdisciplinary team that is dedicated to working together for the benefit of the clients. Both sides agree at the outset that differences will be resolved within the framework of the process, and that neither side will go to court.
A mental health professional is present to help support the spouses as they are working through strong emotions, identifying emotional triggers that could potentially derail the negotiations. Often, financial advisors and child custody specialists are also part of the team.
The collaborative method is an interest-based negotiation that focusses on the needs of the client, and the attorneys use their skills to negotiate rather than threaten. Just as it is the mental health professional’s job to make sure that both spouses are emotionally supported, it is the attorney’s job to focus on the interest of their client.
One of the hallmarks of the collaborative method is that the needs of the clients are prioritized. As both sides work through issues in a respectful manner, the process helps the parties to come away with something of value, leading to a win-win resolution to conflict that preserves relationships.
Should you choose a collaborative divorce?
The collaborative divorce method is not for every couple. It is for those who prefer to have a measure of control over the outcome outside the courtroom, and for those who value the benefits of co-parenting in a manner that minimizes the negative impact of divorce. For Westchester and White Plains residents, finding an experienced legal team that can present options to divorce without court intervention is an important first step.