Cooperating Through the Divorce Process
The traditional approach to divorce is entirely adversarial, and more often than not, sows the seeds of increased emotional pain, fear, and bitterness that the end of a marriage can produce. This dynamic complicates making rational decisions during the divorce process, moving on once things are finalized, and having any hope of retaining a functioning relationship, which is essential if children are involved. Thus, litigating divorce should truly be the last resort couples take to resolve outstanding issues, absent extenuating circumstances, such as domestic violence or fraud. The time, money, and effort of litigation is extremely hard on the couple and their families, but there is another way to look at the end of a marriage that does not require such a hardline approach to dividing property, arranging child custody, and negotiating support. Taking a more cooperative approach to untangling the ties of marriage can reduce some of the stress of the situation, make the changes easier, and even facilitate better settlements for each spouse.
Choose a Different Forum
Courtroom proceedings are stressful by nature for the parties involved. The formality and rules that regulate how hearings and trials are conducted force a distance and opposition between the parties that often translates into each spouse becoming entrenched in achieving his/her desired outcome. This attitude is hard to overcome in this setting, which is why picking an alternative forum to work through divorce issues is much more advantageous to forming a reasonable and fair settlement, as well as preserving or enhancing communication between spouses. Divorce mediation is one of the alternatives many couples choose because there is still something of a buffer with a neutral mediator, but the mediator’s job, rather than making decisions as a judge does, is to help the parties come to a mutual agreement. However, a mediator cannot give legal advice so having an attorney present at the mediation to advise each party of the legality and advisability of their decisions. This gives the spouses control, but also provides the separation for some spouses to make objective decisions.
Another option that is entirely non-adversarial is collaborative divorce. This is a specialized way of creating a divorce settlement which uses attorneys, financial advisors, and mental health professionals trained in this technique. Spouses communicate directly with one another, with the attorney and other professionals there to ensure the best possible outcome is achieved by helping the parties to work together, but also ensuring they understand the implications of any decision they make. Collaborative divorce is especially an option when there are extensive assets, debts, alimony, children issues, etc., and the parties believe they can come to an agreement. However, it can be even more expensive to hire all the professionals used in collaborative divorce, then to aspire to resolving your case amicably through your attorneys, direct discussions with your spouse and the use of mediation. In addition, if you choose collaborative divorce, a contract will be signed which will require the parties to retain different attorneys if they cannot come to an agreement, which can significantly increase the cost.
Have a Different Approach to Desired Outcomes
As noted, litigation tends to push spouses to take an all-or-nothing approach to their demands, which are frequently diametrically opposed. Alternative approaches to divorce require each spouse to have a measured expectation of what he/she wishes to achieve, with each needing to decide which issues are deal-breakers and which are open for discussion. In other words, flexibility is key, as are realistic expectations. An experienced divorce attorney can be invaluable for helping a spouse understand how to prioritize and where compromise would better serve the ultimate goal. Finding a cooperative approach to divorce is entirely possible if both spouses are open to shifting their mindsets away from the unhappiness that led to the marriage’s demise, and instead, focus on how to move forward as smoothly and amicably.
Speak to a Florida Divorce Attorney
The courtroom is not the only place to settle a divorce, and if this setting is not conducive to supporting your family during this transition, talk to a divorce attorney about other options. The attorneys at the All Family Law Group, P.A. have the skills you need to move through this process in a variety of settings, and their attorneys can assess your situation and recommend the best approaches for you. Contact the Tampa divorce attorneys and family lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. to schedule a free consultation. They can be reached via email or call 813-672-1900.