Pros and Cons of Collaborative Divorce
If you wish to avoid an adversarial divorce and have more control over the process, and you believe you and your spouse can work out many of your divorce issues together, a collaborative divorce might be the right choice for you.
Divorcing in court can be expensive, long, and contentious, to say the least. A collaborative divorce seeks to encourage mutual respect and civil negotiations, allows each spouse to retain more control over the terms of their divorce, and may make the divorce process easier for children. It can be very beneficial for a variety of situations, but this option doesn’t work for everyone. If you are interested in a collaborative divorce, make sure you understand the process so you can decide if it is right for you.
About Collaborative Divorce
Although family courts do aim to minimize the strain of the divorce process, negotiating a settlement or going to court for hearings or trial can be stressful. You may not know what the other side is thinking or doing. You may be assigned mandatory mediation. Through the collaborative divorce process, couples avoid the courtroom altogether. Instead, each party will commit to resolving issues without court intervention and meet on neutral ground to discuss the many topics of their divorce. They are each assisted by their own attorneys, who should have experience and training in the collaborative divorce process, as well as any other professionals you wish to be involved.
As a form of alternative dispute resolution, the collaborative process encourages each party to be open and civil in order to better facilitate negotiations regarding property division, alimony, child support, and child custody issues.
Due to the nature of the court system, divorce through litigation often pits couples against one another. Couples can wind up tangled in feelings of anger, resentment, hurt, and frustration. While this may seem inconsequential, the final terms of your divorce will have a very serious impact on your life thereafter and years into your future. Reducing conflict in any divorce makes it more likely you’ll achieve your goals.
The pros of the collaborative divorce process include:
- Less contention. The collaborative process encourages spouses to work together, reaching agreements regarding their divorce that works for both parties. This can lead to reduced stress and a better relationship with your ex-spouse.
- Keep your divorce private. When you go through litigation, you have to go to court in order to present your case to the judge and hear his or her decision. Unfortunately, courtroom appearances are public record, and some of the information about your divorce will be accessible because of this. With collaboration, however, you can keep your divorce private.
- Help from professionals. The collaborative divorce process allows you to invite neutral third-party professionals to assist in the divorce negotiations, such as a trained mediator, financial advisors, realtors, appraisers, mental health counselors, and child/parenting specialists.
- Less strain on your children. When you are going through a divorce, your kids are likely your first concern. Children can be very resilient, but it can be difficult to minimize the negative impact a divorce can have on them. Because the collaborative divorce process takes place out of court and encourages you to work together, it can make the entire process less stressful for your children. It can also teach you and your ex-spouse a lot about successful communication and future co-parenting.
- You remain in control. Even though you still need to reach agreements regarding the various aspects of divorce with your spouse, you retain much more control in the collaborative divorce process. In the traditional divorce process, if agreements cannot be made, each party must present his or her case in court, handing over all authority over to the judge. The judge will then decide what is best for your divorce. With collaboration, you can choose to negotiate until you reach terms both of you find acceptable.
When Collaborative Divorce Isn’t for You
There’s a lot of good to say about collaborative divorce, and while it is beneficial for many families, it simply isn’t for everyone. Collaborative divorce fails if you and your spouse are unable to negotiate solutions for all issues, or one spouse refuses to cooperate, or for some other reason you are unable to work together.
The cons of the collaborative divorce process:
The risk of failure is the biggest con of the collaborative divorce process. If it does not work for you and you cannot reach agreement, then you have to start over. This means the work done and money spent during the process is wasted and you both must proceed in filing a traditional divorce with new attorneys.
This is why spouses who have difficulty working together should strongly consider other options. If either spouse has any “dealbreaker” issues, it probably won’t work. If one spouse is very aggressive and the other more reserved, this can also be a situation where collaborative divorce doesn’t work. These are pretty common issues when it comes to people who are getting divorced.
For couples who cannot choose a collaborative divorce, negotiating through attorneys or litigation can help iron out the details they could not see to themselves. Also, a judge could make the hard decisions they were unable to. For high-conflict couples, or those in marriages where addiction, abuse, or domestic violence was an issue, litigation is often the best way to help both spouses move forward without any unnecessary contact.
Unsure about whether the collaborative divorce process is for you? Contact McKinley Irvin about your Oregon divorce. Our attorneys are experienced in both collaborative and traditional divorce and can help.