Divorce is emotionally difficult and technically demanding by its nature. Our adversarial justice system can make it harder because it pits one side against the other, with each party trying to get the best deal. Even in a relatively amicable divorce, both spouses may be left with lingering resentments about the process — and those could be in addition to the hurt feelings they already harbored about the end of the marriage.
This can be bad for everyone involved. It can be particularly difficult for the children of a divorced couple.
Many people can avoid the worst of these problems by choosing alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation. However, even with mediation, it is sometimes hard to get around the fundamentally adversarial nature that is built into the law of divorce.
What is a Collaborative Divorce?
In the 1990s, a small group of lawyers began developing an alternative approach to divorce that is meant to make the process less emotionally difficult and more productive. They called it Collaborative Divorce, and it is now an accepted practice for divorce in all 50 states, including Michigan.
In a Collaborative Divorce, the parties and their lawyers commit to resolving their issues out of court in an amicable way, through good-faith negotiations and mediation. In Michigan Collaborative Divorce, the parties and professionals even sign a Participation Agreement committing to the process.
For the parties themselves, there are many advantages. Compared to going to trial, an out-of-court settlement is typically faster and less expensive. It also gives the parties much more control over their outcomes, as opposed to leaving the decisions in the hands of a judge.
Furthermore, the emphasis on collaboration tends to mean the parties end the process with fewer resentments. This is good for the individuals themselves, and it can be especially important in divorces of parents who have young children.
Not for everyone
All these advantages aside, Collaborative Divorce is not for everyone. Experienced attorneys and Divorce Coaches training in the Collaborative Divorce process will have detailed conversations with clients to determine whether or not the case is appropriate as a Collaborative Divorce. This ensures that parties have the greatest chance of success in their process.
If you are wondering whether a Collaborative Divorce approach might be right for you, contact our office for a free consultation.