Battling it out in court is not the only way to go through a divorce. Couples who are willing to negotiate and come up with a divorce agreement themselves often benefit from alternative methods, such as mediation and collaborative law.
Couples who have vast and unique assets, such as multiple properties, valuable personal items and business interests, may benefit especially from alternative methods, as the discussions that take place are confidential, and the result is usually a more equitable settlement.
The Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation discusses that mediation is one alternative to litigation. In this setting, a neutral third-party helps the two parties develop a fair divorce agreement. This mediator guides discussions regarding child custody, asset division, living situations and other topics. If necessary, the process can involve professionals, such as accountants, to help with the complexities of the situation. The mediator also helps the two parties work through disagreements.
Collaborative law divorce
FindLaw discusses that collaborative law involves both mediation and negotiation. Each party hires an attorney for the process, but proceedings occur in an informal setting similar to mediation. Both parties and their attorneys sign a contract stating that everyone will work towards the goal of reaching a mutually agreeable settlement. Elements of the agreement include being honest and forthcoming and being respectful. If the lawyers are unable to come to an agreement, they agree to remove themselves from the process, and the couple must hire new legal representation to proceed with litigation.
As with mediation, each side can hire specialists, such as a financial expert, divorce coach or child psychologist, to help with the decision-making process. Because the attorneys do most of the negotiating, each party should be open with their lawyer about what they want and on what they are willing to compromise.