How lucky we are to live in a country with choices. When I think of the choices we have in this country, I’m reminded of a story I once heard. A man, looking for a wife, went to Russia. Lucky for him, he met and fell in love with a woman and she came back with him to the United States as his new wife. However, life in the United States was not easy for the new bride. She wasn’t used to having so many choices in things you and I take for granted. The simple choice of choosing which catsup bottle to pick up from the shelf was overwhelming for this person, who was used to having few, or no, choices.
So to is the world of divorce. No longer do we have the “typical” divorce. Besides litigation, we now have mediation, joint mediation, judicial mediation, collaboration, and modified collaboration. It is very confusing, and can also be frightening, especially if you are new to the world of divorce. Which one is right for you?
It is not a “one size fits all” process. Your best friend may have had a peaceful divorce which was successfully mediated with only one attorney involved. On the other hand, your neighbor went through a divorce involving attorneys, child custody evaluators, forensic accountants, numerous court appearances, etc.
Sometimes, you have no choice but to litigate your divorce within the court system. Along with the litigation are higher costs and not necessarily the results you want. If you choose to litigate your case, you will be placing your fate in the hands of a judicial officer (the Judge) who knows nothing about you or your family.
If it “fits” your situation, then the mediation or collaboration process will mean keeping the decision making process with you and your spouse, not the judge. You will help decide how to share the children, you will help decide how to divide your assets, you will help decide how long the process will take, etc. The decisions will not be left to a third party.
Remember that whether you choose mediation, collaboration or litigation, the process is not easy. In fact, depending upon the facts surrounding your divorce, mediation and collaboration can actually be more work for you than litigation. When trying to decide, choose an attorney who has experience and is educated in all areas. She/He can help you decide which course is best for your situation.
By Pamela Edwards-Swift,
Certified Family Law Specialist