If you and your spouse are thinking about splitting up but wonder if there is an alternative to divorce litigation, you are not alone. At the Law Offices of Sheara F. Friend, we have noticed a trend of Massachusetts couples seeking to end their marriages through alternative forms of dispute resolution. Usually, this means either a collaborative divorce or mediation.
Regardless of which method you choose, alternative dispute resolution offers you and your spouse several advantages as you divorce each other. Your divorce will not only affect you and your spouse but other families members as well, particularly any children you may have together. Alternative dispute resolution is a way to minimize, or potentially eliminate altogether, the stress and pain your divorce may cause to family members as well as yourselves. Rather than having the court impose a settlement that may not be satisfactory for either party, alternative dispute resolution allows you and your spouse to talk out a settlement of your own choosing.
While there are many potential advantages to a collaborative divorce, there are also specific rules that participants must follow. Although you may choose to consult outside experts, such as divorce coaches or financial planners, to resolve technical matters that may arise, the primary participants in a collaborative divorce are you, your spouse and your respective legal counsel. You and your spouse must each choose attorneys trained in collaborative law to represent you, and if the collaborative process should fail and you choose litigation instead, neither you nor your spouse can retain the services of your collaborative law attorneys. A signed agreement to this effect at the beginning of the collaborative process demonstrates all parties’ commitment to the collaborative process.
Mediation is similar to collaborative divorce in many ways. The main difference is that mediation requires the participation of an experienced, neutral third party to oversee negotiations between you and your spouse.
Many couples are able to find compromises that work, take control of their individual futures and avoid the sometimes acrimonious process of divorce litigation through alternative dispute resolution. More information about collaborative divorce and mediation is available on our website.