Ever feel that you, or someone you know, has chosen the wrong divorce process? I see it all the time. Some folks go to lawyers who they feel will ‘fight’ for them when the could have sat down with their soon-to-be-Ex and a mediator and worked out their agreement themselves. Or some people go to mediation but one of the spouses really needs an advocate and would have been better served by engaging in the Collaborative divorce process. Others chose Collaborative divorce but there are issues in the family that suggest a strong litigator would be more appropriate.
So What’s Next?
So how do you know if you’ve chosen the wrong divorce process? More importantly, once you figure out your divorce may have been different if you had chosen to find your resolution in a different manner – is it too late to change course?
One way to understand your process options from the very beginning is to see an Early Neutral Consultant. These professionals will look at your family dynamics and explain the divorce process to you as well as your process options. So from the very beginning you can decide whether you think litigation, collaborative, mediation or arbitration are the best divorce processes for your family. Sometimes, however, people still get it wrong. I’ve seen couples chose mediation (most likely for the cost benefit) and they end up spending money and resolving very little. In a non-adversarial situation, perhaps the collaborative process may have been a better alternative. Making important decision with their lawyer present may have given the couple more confidence to make these decisions together.
More Than Just A Financial Consideration – But That Too.
Recently, I spoke to a gentleman, at a cocktail party, who had spent over $70,000 on his litigator and his lawyer wanted an additional $10,000 to go back to court for support issues. He asked me about mediation and when I described the process to him he thought that his Ex and him could have sat down together and worked things out, for much less cost, I might add. He also suggested that there would have been less conflict left between had they chosen an alternative process option. They had chosen the wrong process option but, unfortunately, the conflict that mistake had created will stay with the, likely, for the rest of their lives.
In the end, it’s easier to become informed as to your choices and make the best choice you feel is right for your family. If you get into the wrong process option it’s easier to work your way up from the least conflicted process to the most. If you are in mediation and it doesn’t work, you can always move whatever issues are unresolved to the Collaborative process and continue from there. It’s much more difficult to litigate and then decide to move to the Collaborative process because litigation, itself, causes each spouse to be positioned. Moving to the Collaborative process from this point isn’t impossible but the work the professionals have to do to get to resolution is much harder as they have to ‘bring down the walls’ between the couple that litigation erected.
For more on process options see this post. http://www.financialdivorceservices.com/adr/how-to-divorce/