Lawyers are trained to solve problems while finding solutions that meet the best interests of their clients. However, an attorney experienced in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) also looks for opportunities for healing and growth along the way.
While many divorcing partners, as well as their attorneys, are fixated on the outcome instead of the process, a collaborative approach often reveals opportunities for both parties to focus on common goals, which can set them on a positive course in their new lives.
What is a traditional approach to divorce?
In most divorces, the goals and outcomes are clearly defined. Spouses and their attorneys want to win the case and secure the best financial and personal results possible. In nearly 98% of these cases, divorces are settled without a contested evidentiary hearing.
While in many cases, the outcome achieves the results they were working toward, this adversarial process can be extremely expensive from both a financial and personal perspective. That’s because the system is designed that way unless other options are considered early on.
How does a collaborative approach differ?
When spouses consider ADR as a way to settle their differences, the focus is on setting goals and the best way to achieve them. A collaborative process often begins with both parties answering two critical questions:
- What are the goals for the process, your children and your future relationship with your spouse?
- What do you really want out of this divorce?
Couples should reflect on how they want their lives to look in the short-term – while the divorce is underway, the medium-term – a couple of years after the divorce is final, and the long-term – five years or more down the road.
Collaboration can be an empowering process
Divorce constitutes a monumental shift in a person’s life. It will also require a massive amount of effort. So, why not take the time to identify a potential roadmap by identifying goals, values and other plans to move on from the process as healthy as possible? A family law attorney with extensive knowledge of the collaborative process can help guide you along this non-adversarial road toward a new life.