So, you’ve decided to separate from your spouse, something you probably never thought you’d be doing. Aside from the turmoil, you now face a multitude of decisions, including choosing how to resolve the separation itself.
Most people will think first of going to court to resolve their disputes. Litigation works where there has been violence, an emergency, or a need for an objective third party. There are times when parties need their day in court.
But I am a strong proponent of settlements that take place outside the court process – known as alternative dispute resolution. Let’s start with Collaborate Family Law.
Consider the unintended but inevitable consequences of going to court. Both parties take a position, and after a series of letters or documents – where they usually end up vilifying each other – the positions are entrenched. It’s almost impossible to reach a compromise because of all the hurtful and damaging things that have been said, that cannot be unsaid. The worst part is the impact on children, caught between warring parents. The litigation process damages the very children the parents genuinely want to protect. The separation isn’t the problem; it’s the conflict inherent in the adversarial process that so negatively impacts on children.
Also, consider the cost of litigation. By the time parties get to trial, the cost can be as high as $100,000 for each party. And then, the cost of the trial is about $10,000 a day.
So, I recommend Collaborate Family Law because it is a collaborative process. The parties (and their lawyers) sign an agreement to act in good faith, to make full financial disclosure, to consider each other’s interests and to put their children first. The lawyers are facilitators, not warriors. They help both parties (not just their own clients) to settle. Normally, a negotiated settlement is reached after three or four sessions. The cost is far lower than with the adversarial process, and the process is far faster as well.
The most important benefit is that the parties resolve their differences themselves. Right from the start, their framework is to interact and co-parent with respect and (at the very least) cordiality. They get tools and a process for resolving future conflict. Best of all, they give their children the freedom to love and enjoy time with each parent, without guilt or fear of conflict or reprisals.
I’ll be blogging in future about other alternatives to litigation. This is not “one size fits all.” The right process depends on the circumstances particular to each situation.