Tampa attorney Cole Jeffries has an excellent overview of collaborative divorce.

Collaborative divorce is yet another attempt to make divorce as easier a process as possible, especially when it comes to dealing with issues involving children of the marriage.    Couples who decide to get a divorce now have available another option to make the process easier.

The other, earlier, option is mediation, which is still available to any couple who has issues to be resolved.

What both of these options have in common is the following:

  • both are voluntary processes.  In the case of mediation, attending mediation is mandatory if a divorce has been filed as a litigated case and an order of referral to mediation has been entered; but mediation is voluntary at any time before that order is entered;
  • both are an attempt to make divorce more civil, workable and effective for the parties, which of course means avoiding the litigation that can lead to an acrimonious divorce experience;
  • both give you more control over the divorce process; and
  • when successful (meaning that an agreement is reached), both lead to an uncontested divorce

Cost of Collaborative Divorce vs. Mediation

In terms of cost, mediation can be less costly than collaborative divorce since collaborative divorce requires additional professionals, such as a mental health specialist and probably a financial adviser for the financial issues involved.

I suspect that collaborative divorce may be beyond the reach of most middle-income families who are getting divorced since there are more professionals involved.  But mediation is not, which you can attend with or without a lawyer.

The Harsh Truth about a Litigated Divorce

If you and your spouse have decided to get a divorce and have issues that still need to be resolved because you both cannot agree how to resolve them, collaborative divorce or mediation are worth considering.  The only alternative to both of these methods is litigation, which is not for the faint of heart nor easy on your finances.

Most people don’t realize that a litigated divorce comes down to  handing over control to a judge who, while well-meaning, is often overworked with the sheer number of cases they have to deal with.

By handing over control of issues of parental responsibility, time-sharing, division of assets and debts, etc., you are effectively setting yourself up for a decision that you may not like.  Final judgments of divorce that contain provisions that you dislike or disagree with have only one way to be resolved: appeals.  An appeal, assuming that it can be done in your case, involves more litigation but at a higher level; and involves yet more money, time and frustration.

At the end of the day, your divorce will be as hard, harsh, frustrating, and expensive as you and your spouse decide to make it, all else being equal and assuming there are no issues of domestic violence, neglect, etc.  Hopefully, this latest initiative in family law will further highlight the possibility of an easier way to get your divorce done.