In this final installment exploring several different approaches to divorce, we conclude with an overview of collaborative divorce.

Unlike mediation, where the mediator may not be a lawyer, a collaborative divorce is generally handled directly by lawyers through a series of negotiations. That format may allow more time to work out difficult issues. Whereas mediation is conducted in person, a negotiation may not necessarily have to be approached as a four-way meeting. Some of the negotiations might be through electronic means or exchanges.

Of course, additional cost may be incurred by a lengthy back-and-forth negotiation period while hammering out the details of a settlement agreement. As one protection against wasted resources, the attorneys in a collaborative process may sign an agreement requiring them to withdraw if a settlement is not reached.

Is a collaborative approach right for everyone? Not necessarily. As in mediation, a spouse suspected of hiding assets might sabotage the process, which depends upon the voluntary disclosure of financial and other information. If a divorce also involves a family business, the more formal structure of litigation might provide more peace of mind regarding issues of valuation and asset division. If domestic violence is also an issue, a court might offer more protections than either the collaborative or mediation models. Finally, since a majority of divorces are begun with one party’s unilateral decision to divorce, court supervised litigation might be an effective way to diffuse an adversarial climate.

Notably, divorce lawyers in Maryland can receive training specific to the collaborative divorce model. I have not only been trained in Collaborative Practice, but I am also a past president of Howard County Collaborative Professionals, Inc. With that experience,  I can help you determine which divorce approach might best suit your situation.

Source: Forbes, ” The Four Divorce Alternatives,” Jeff Landers, April 24, 2012