13. I may need to go the divorce route, but I dread the household disruption, expense, and especially the impact upon the children. What are my options?
You could make an appointment for a consultation with a family-law practitioner like me, to learn about alternative approaches and how they might work with your particular circumstances. You would also receive an eye-opening view of the strange world of divorce law, and how various actions by each of you could affect the outcome in unexpected ways. While you are mulling over this information, there are tips for organizing materials and protecting yourself financially, which are useful no matter what you decide.
I encourage Clients to consider conducting their divorces through a process called Collaborative Law. Unlike mediation, Collaborative Law Clients each have their own attorneys to represent them throughout, but the Clients and their attorneys pledge to make best efforts to resolve the matter without litigation, in a courteous and open manner through a series of four-way meetings. If either Client drops out of the Collaborative process, then the attorneys are required to resign from the case and cannot represent the Clients in litigation, which is a powerful incentive to creatively produce a settlement acceptable to both spouses. Not only does the collaborative process often save money on fees and court costs, but also significantly reduces the stress and paranoia and eliminates a lot of the shenanigans and unpleasant surprises that may take place in a divorce. Collaborative practice also encourages the use of “coaches” and other supportive professionals to help couples and their children to survive the transition and develop a positive outlook and practical steps for the future.
If formal collaborative law practice would not be suitable for some reason, for example if one of the spouses has moved out of the area, the parties may still decide to apply collaborative principles to conduct their negotiations.