When a couple is confronted with the prospect of going through a divorce they have three basic process options. They can try working things out on their own at the kitchen table, working through lawyers in the litigation process or using the collaborative process.
The kitchen table process is cheap but incredibly difficult for most couples unless they have no significant assets, no children and no conflict. Even if the parties are in basic agreement about who is going to get what preparing the legal paperwork to accurately and legally give effect to that agreement without involving lawyers is very hard to do and the time commitment to try to figure all the legal stuff out is way worse than trying to do your tax return and keep up with your health insurance benefits each year.
Using lawyers in the litigation process certainly answers the problem of getting the legal work done correctly but adds a couple of factors that can get out of hand. If the lawyers end up going to war with each other the process can be destructively expensive and painfully slow. The litigation process does not have a neutral voice involved unless the lawyers are willing to try mediation. The challenge is sometimes the parties have exhausted their resources by the time they get to mediation and creative, cost effective solutions have evaporated.
The collaborative divorce process is the Cadillac of processes for those couples who have meaningful assets to divide, children and some amount of conflict or disagreement about how to work things out. The reason the collaborative divorce process is the Cadillac of processes is that the couple will have settlement oriented lawyers to give them legal advice and tend to the legal paperwork, a neutral mental health professional to manage the process and help the couple constructively explore options for post divorce parenting arrangements and a neutral financial professional to help gather and explain important financial information and explore with the parties cost effective way to come to a financial understanding. Lawyers for the legal issues A neutral mental health professional for kid’s issues. A neutral financial professional for the money. A settlement oriented expert for all areas that need to be addressed in going through a divorce. Now that’s a Cadillac.