Easing the pain of divorce with collaboration and mediation

Alternative dispute resolution may save time and money for some couples

When a couple divorces, they often have disagreements about important matters affecting their family such as child custody, property division, or spousal support. While in some instances these disagreements may require a litigated solution, for many couples their differences can be resolved in a more supportive and amicable environment. As CNBC reports, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), such as collaboration and mediation, provide avenues for divorcing couples to resolve their disagreements while avoiding the emotional and financial pain of litigation.

Staying out of court

The terms "collaboration" and "mediation" often lead to confusion, with the terms sometimes being used interchangeably. Both approaches to divorce are similar in that they both strive to avoid a litigated solution; however, they also contain some important distinctions. In collaboration, for example, each spouse is represented by an attorney, with both attorneys agreeing not to go to trial. In mediation, however, a mediator acts as a neutral third-party between the two spouses. The mediator's goal is to help the spouses resolve their differences, but the final decision is ultimately left to the spouses themselves.

There are a lot of advantages to an ADR process. Staying out of court is usually cheaper and less time consuming. For couples that have children, it can be helpful for those children to see their parents dealing with their issues in a mature and supportive environment. Furthermore, a lengthy court battle tends to take an emotional toll on spouses themselves, and experts note that people who go through mediation or collaboration tend to recover from divorce much faster.

Things to keep in mind

There are a lot of good things to be said for ADR, but it is also important to remember that every person's divorce case is unique. As U.S. News & World Report states, ADR is not right for every couple, especially when one spouse has been the victim of domestic violence or emotional abuse by the other spouse. In order for collaboration or mediation to work, both spouses must feel safe and comfortable with one another.

Furthermore, it is important to do proper research before opting for ADR. Not fully understanding how each divorce process works can backfire in big ways. ADR can sound ideal to many people, but if a couple isn't right for the process, then they could find themselves ultimately litigating their divorce after failing at mediation or collaboration.

Talk to an attorney

Making the right decisions during divorce requires preparation and expert help. An experienced family law attorney who understands ADR can assist couples in exploring the different divorce options available to them. With such expert advice, people going through what is otherwise a difficult time in their lives will have the guidance they need for better security and greater peace of mind.