As common as divorce is i our 21st century world, very few of these couples going through the divorce process actually know and realize that there are a variety of options to chose from when it comes to the needed and necessary help for a divorce process to be finalized.
There are basically two “extreme” options people who want to get a divorce have of going through the process. The very first option involves people who can undertake the entire process on their own without any outside help or involvement. This options would be suitable, or would typically involve people who have very little to disagreement or conflict between themselves, or they are simply able to amicably resolve whatever differences they have. In legal terms, these people are often referred to as “in propria persona.”
The second extreme option involves a full-blown court battle. This is arguably the options couples dread the most, if only for the emotional and financial costs that are involved. Costs which many people seldom can afford to incur.
However, in the event that neither of the above two options are a viable solution, the following are “middle ground” solutions to divorce that couples should freely explore.
- Mediation: Mediation, as the word implies usually involves a neutral and impartial external party, whose sole purpose would be to help the couple negotiate or facilitate a mutually binding agreement between themselves. This mediator would usually be a lawyer, an accountant, a mental health professional or other similar professional. Even though there is usually no direct attorney involvement, save if the mediator is an attorney, the only time attorneys are involved is if they are independently advising each spouse in their individual capacity.
- Unbudling: Unbundling simply refers to the process where, either separately or jointly, the spouses act as their own general contractors in the divorce process. In some instances handling certain aspects of the divorce process, in other words “in propria persona,” and in several instances, or on specific matters, bringing in external parties such as lawyers, mediators, accountants, etc. as and when needed.
- Collaborative Law: This is a relatively new type of divorce process whereby each party to the divorce seeks out the services of a highly skilled family lawyer, whose sole objective would be the achievement of a win-win settlement between the two parties. Some of the principles of collaborative law, which both parties usually agree and commit to include: binding agreement to good-faith negotiations, full and complete disclosure, full acknowledgement of the needs of the soon-to-be-ex-spouse, welfare of the children, as well as commitment to avoid any court proceeding. Oftentimes, certain professionals may be invited to the process as needed, such as lawyers, child care specialists, accountants, and more.
- Conventional settlement: This is the process whereby each spouse has retained the services of an attorney, and the case has gone to and landed before the courts, during which time (be it early on, mid way or at a later stage) either one of the parties agree to a resolution of the case by settlement. This type of settlement can either be amicable, or it can be highly adversarial, and similarly, it can cost very little, or it can cost a lot, depending on all parties involved.
Choosing the Right Divorce Model Matters
While it is very plausible to assume that many or even most divorcing couples go into the process with a degree of openness and fairness, the truth of the matter is that many divorces end up in bitterness. Which is why it is crucially important to select the most appropriate model for the divorce process, as this is often the thing that causes that bitterness and anger that most couples go through. Another factors that can drastically reduce the possibility of all that negativity creeping into the process, is to ensure that only a very experienced, in the selected resolution model is chosen.
Whenever there is an amicable and shared trust between and in each spouse, as well as there being reasonable level of peace with the fact of the divorce, then the Mediation model is likely to work best. In situations where one spouse seems to hold the upper hand in one way or another, either with regards finances, or bargaining power, then mediation will likely not work. As in situations of extreme anger or distress exhibited by one spouse.
In situations of very limited “complications” and where the couple still maintain a level of friendship, as well as there being an issue of limited availability of resources, “Unbundling” would appear to be the favored model.
In the case of Collaborative Law, this would seem to most appropriate for couples who have mutually committed to the settlement, are both able to compromise and see things from the other persons point of view,