When I started my company I chose to name it Family Comes First Mediation, because no matter how many divorces or paternity cases I do; family will always be a top priority. When children are involved the concept of family has nothing to do with divorce or separation. A parent is always a parent; therefore forever remain the child’s family. Whether choosing to co-parent with ease or talk as little as possible, they will forever be connected on some level. And this is crucial in the life of a child.
As a mediator I remain a neutral party. I keep the lines of communication open, brainstorm ideas, possibly teach empathy and assist in the decision making process. It is my goal to assist couples looking to end a relationship peacefully, while keeping children’s best interest in mind. Together we can negotiate an acceptable agreement that will reduce stress, keep all parties on amicable terms and significantly reduce the cost associated with the litigation. This is of great value to all involved; including the children.
Mediation has the ability to help parties learn to communicate again, if only for the sake of the children, and to make their post-relationship better and easier on all involved. Settling conflicts is extremely important to couples with children simply because although the relationship between the parents has come to an end; the role as parents never ends. Keeping those roles as amicable as possible can only benefit the children; in the same way that constant fighting can only harm children. No child is comfortable with parents in constant crisis, but rather need to know they have parents they can depend on to make good decisions for them. Mediation, and possibly a skilled parent coordinator, can help to make the transition as easy as possible for all involved.
When the time comes to discuss a divorce, modern-day spouses have many more choices than people did just a few years ago. One choice that is gaining in popularity is the Collaborative Divorce, which involves spouses and their lawyers working together to forge a separation agreement in a process more formal than mediation, but less costly and emotionally stressful than litigation.
Like any divorce proceeding, your first step is to retain the services of a qualified collaborative divorce lawyer and mediator to discuss the pros and cons of a collaborative approach to divorce.
- Like mediation, a collaborative divorce can be a confidential affair between two people instead of a matter of public record.
- In a collaborative divorce you and your spouse agree to bring in experts as needed – for example, neutral financial experts to assist with asset division or other money matters.
- Speed and Efficiency. Similar to mediation, a collaborative divorce happens outside the court calendar and thus can move much more quickly.
- If the process fails, you will not only have to start over with litigation, you will probably have to hire new lawyers.
- If your spouse is not up front about finances or other issues, the process will not work.
- The court may object to a collaborative approach – for example, if there have been charges of domestic abuse.
- Sometimes even reasonable people can disagree so strongly on aspects of a divorce it is simply impossible to act together.
As with any divorce strategy, consult with your attorney before making any decisions.
Naturally, when couples go through a divorce there are many options and alternatives to help the opposed spouses facilitate a smooth separation. One way to negotiate and achieve a desirable outcome for those involved is to pursue a collaborative divorce.
This is a process by which you and your spouse will each hire specially qualified collaborate attorneys who will advise on matters pertaining to the divorce. It differs from litigation as the process is decidedly non-adversarial and from meditation in that the meetings may be attended by other professionals such as neutral third-party accountants, parenting counsellors or custody specialists.
The Benefits of Collaborative Divorce
Ordinarily each spouse and their attorney is required to sign a “no court” agreement that states both attorneys will withdraw from the case if a solution is not met and the matter will go to court for arbitration.
Through collaboration, couples are able to minimize their contact with each other and once an agreement is met, the legal aspect of divorce becomes greatly simplified as contention is taken out of the equation.
Other Ways Collaborative Divorce Can Help
There are five other reasons that collaboration can provide answers to your situation and produce results that are preferable to those you could receive in court. For example, you and your spouse should be able to:
- Find stability through temporary agreement
- Voluntarily exchange all pertinent information
- Minimize the related expenses of separation
- Negotiate a fair and equitable settlement, and
- Decide how each of you can move forward
If you and your spouse pursue collaboration from the very beginning of the divorce procedure, you will be able to save not only time, but also your sanity as you will likely navigate the intricacies with greater ease, privacy and tact.