When you are going through a divorce, you want the best possible results from your settlement and child custody agreement. But sometimes the "best" result does not mean the most money or the most property. It may mean that both people in the relationship can leave feeling emotionally solid, that children feel secure and cared for, and that both parents are in a financial position to care for themselves and their children.
I am divorce attorney Elizabeth J. Case. Through my work in collaborative law, mediation, and divorce litigation, I seek to help my clients arrive at divorce, property division, and child custody agreements that they consider the best possible result for them.
Contact my Columbia law office to learn if collaborative divorce is right for your situation.
Collaborative Divorce / Mediation / Litigation
Which is right for you?
Divorce litigation is the traditional method of resolving problems in which the two parties and their lawyers bring the issues before a judge who decides for them the most important issues of their lives. Divorce litigation can be costly and time consuming, but sometimes it's the only way to reach a resolution because of hostility between parties, or rigidity or instability on the part of one party.
Mediation became an effective alternative to divorce decades ago and is often used very effectively to help couples work out a resolution. In mediation there is one neutral mediator working between the two parties. The parties may sit in different rooms (with or without their attorneys) while the mediator goes back and forth between them.
Collaborative divorce is a much newer approach gaining increasing visibility and acceptance across the nation. In collaborative divorce, the parties and their attorneys (who are specially trained in the collaborative process), sit down together to review the facts of the case and reach decisions together. Experts resources are available to ensure everyone is operating from the same set of facts.
Some of the benefits of the collaborative divorce process include:
- The two parties learn new ways to communicate with each other respectfully in order to negotiate, compromise, and accomplish goals together. This will be important in their future work together to raise their children.
- Because each party is represented by an attorney, the collaborative process can work in situations in which mediation would not be effective because of a power imbalance between the parties. For example, a stay-at-home mom would not be on equal footing in negotiations with a business executive dad who has handled all the finances and kept mom in the dark.
- Access to financial specialists, such as a certified public accountant to ensure both parties are working with the same objective information regarding cash flow, income and expenses, debts, cash flow, business and property valuation, and the tax effects of certain methods of property distribution.
- Access to child specialists, mental health professionals who meet with the child and each parent and then advise the parents on the child's developmental needs, their concerns about the child's well-being, and what kinds of access schedules may work best for their children. Having information of this kind can take the fight out of determining child custody arrangements.
Clients are sometimes worried that the collaborative method of divorce will be costly. Studies have shown that, on average, it is significantly less expensive to undertake a collaborative divorce than it is to go to divorce court. Furthermore, collaborative law is an ideal solution for complex property and debt division and child support calculations. Plus, the money you spend is being used to provide you with the information you need to make wise decisions that will affect the rest of your life-and your child's life.
If you are considering divorce, ask yourself if you intend to pursue a win-win situation or win-lose situation for yourself, your former partner, and your children. Maybe it's time to consider a collaborative approach to divorce. I can help. Contact my Columbia law office.