Alternatives to a courtroom divorce

When couples are going through a divorce, it shakes the family’s sense of security to the core and redefines what normalcy is. When the divorce ends up before a judge, the tension and conflicts that existed during marriage can end up being played out in court, causing even more hurt.

Fortunately, in California there are less confrontational approaches to divorce where the parties can resolve their differences in private, and where they can work on moving forward to amicably preserve their relationship after divorce. This can help the healing process and, where there are children, make them better co-parents later on.

A non-litigated divorce is not only less expensive, it also allows both parties to have control over the terms of their divorce settlement. Finding an experienced family law attorney who can present options to divorce without court intervention is an important first step.

The process of collaborative divorce

Of the many alternative dispute resolution methods available to divorcing couples in California, collaborative divorce has become more popular. The collaborative process is for couples who do not want a litigated divorce, but who prefer the support of their attorney while they are going through negotiations.

In a collaborative divorce, attorneys trained in collaborative law are present on both sides as part of an interdisciplinary team focused on the needs and the priorities of their clients. The end goal is negotiating a divorce settlement that has positive outcomes for both sides.

The team will also usually include a mental health professional who works with both sides as they are processing sometimes very strong emotions and mitigating the effects of triggers that can potentially upset negotiations. Other experts, such as accountants and child custody specialists, are sometimes part of this team.

Both sides with their lawyers often sign a contract that states that they will not litigate the outcome. If the parties are unable to reach a settlement and have to go to court, the attorney agree to withdraw.

One of the hallmarks of the collaborative divorce process is that it is an interest-based negotiation in which the needs of each spouse are prioritized. As both sides work through the issues in a respectful manner, the process helps both sides to come away with something of value, leading to a win-win resolution to conflict that preserves relationships.