Divorces can be challenging.
Every marriage is different. People decide to live together for various reasons. Sometimes it is true love and affection; other times, financial or business-related interests play a decisive role. Consequently, the nature of marriage relationships varies, and each marriage is unique.
Similar to marriages, divorces also differ. Some divorces involve dividing complex financial assets, while others involve children and are emotionally charged or even violent.
In any case, divorce represents one of the most difficult periods in everyone’s life. Undergoing divorce poses multiple challenges—emotional, financial, and legal.
Regardless of the intimacy between you and your spouse, ending a marriage can be emotionally devastating. That is especially true if children are involved. Watching their parents divorce can leave deep emotional scars and negatively affect children’s well-being.
The financial aspects of divorce are not less stressful. Instead, the focus is on dividing and distributing marital property. That can be a burdensome process, especially in high-net divorces, involving investments, valuable collections, stocks and bonds, multiple real estate properties, professionals, and family businesses.
The complexity of divorce from a legal standpoint depends on which divorce method you choose. For example, opting for litigation puts additional stress on an already challenging life event. Undergoing complex litigation can last for years, and the expenses add up during each phase of the case. Most importantly, the court process is not set up for achieving long-term positive goals such as effective co-parenting.
See below how traditional and alternative divorce processes differ and how a collaborative divorce attorney can help you experience a less stressful divorce.
Litigating a Divorce is Painful.
Divorcing in court is a traditional way to end a marriage. Before alternative dispute resolution methods appeared, litigation was the only way to dissolve a marriage—despite its numerous flaws. Litigation is an adversarial process involving two opposite parties fighting over who wins the case. That battle can often mean a struggle between the parties and their attorneys, each representing the other in a bad light.
Naturally, fighting for financial compensation in court does not contribute to any long-term positive goals. The process is public, so unless the court file is sealed, everything parties share in court (often following court orders) becomes publicly available. It is unusual for a divorce case file to be sealed and there have to be compelling reasons. Since divorces involve disclosing sensitive personal information, the publicity of litigation can only make things worse—ruining reputations and leaving emotional scars on children.
In addition to the emotionally draining aspects of litigation, divorce in court is a timely and costly enterprise. Proving divorce allegations in court is a burdensome process consisting of the discovery phase, including written discovery and often depositions, followed by trial, which includes opening statements, witness testimonies, and closing arguments. Sometimes, expert witnesses are necessary. Strict evidence rules and the involvement of attorneys and experts result in an enormous financial strain and a loss of time.
As a contentious and adversarial, victory-oriented process, litigation further disrupts relationships between former spouses, including their relatives and friends. Additionally, an adversarial process negatively affects children, who suffer the most. That is because their parents’ relationship is ruined during months and years of court battles, making them incapable of engaging in productive co-parenting. Often the children are also involved more directly, through testimony or custody evaluations by mental health professionals and guardians.
On the other hand, out-of-court methods provide the simplicity and effectiveness that litigation lacks. The collaborative approach offers multiple advantages with the right collaborative divorce attorney. Likewise, mediation can provide you with many benefits. Anna Krolikowska is both a collaborative divorce attorney and a certified mediator, and can talk to you about the two different approaches so that you can choose the right approach for you.
A Collaborative Approach to Divorce
The collaborative process focuses on cooperation between the divorcing spouses and their collaborative divorce attorneys. Each spouse is represented by a collaborative divorce attorney working together towards an out-of-court settlement. It is not possible for an attorney to represent both spouses in any divorce proceeding, regardless of which divorce process you use, because of the inherent conflicts. The collaborative divorce attorneys, like Anna Krolikowska, are trained as mediator and trained in collaborative divorce process and utilize their skills to help you reach a collaborative divorce agreement that works best for you and your family.
After signing a representation agreement, both parties commit to conducting themselves in good faith, using their best efforts to settle. The collaborative divorce attorney cannot represent the same client in litigation if the collaborative divorce ends unsuccessfully. That is because they have had a much greater access to their client’s spouse in a collaborative divorce process than in any other type of a divorce process. In addition, in a collaborative process the parties agree to disclose all material information and accurately represent the facts.
The key to these collaborative divorce process rules is creating an atmosphere of trust and enabling a free flow of information. Because the collaborative law process is confidential, collaborative divorce attorneys encourage their clients to have full transparency by holding four-way conferences and multiple open negotiating sessions.
Unlike litigation lawyers who engage in adversarial court battles representing opposite sides, collaborative divorce attorneys closely cooperate in bringing about positive outcomes, while representing the best interests of their respective clients. As a result, they often work in a much more collegial and efficient way, but that should not confuse you because collaborative divorce process is all about cooperation, and collaborative divorce attorneys focus their practices at connecting people and overcoming disputes.
Mediation, as an alternative dispute resolution method, involves a neutral third party facilitating the negotiations between the spouses. The mediator, often an attorney, conducts private sessions, allowing the spouses to open up about their feelings and talk sincerely about disputed issues. Often, collaborative divorce attorneys are also certified mediators, which allows them to see things from different perspectives and combine the best of both worlds, which allows them to be hired as either a collaborative attorney or a mediator in a particular case.
Mediation can involve either group mediation sessions, with both parties present, or private mediation sessions. In private mediation sessions (caucuses), the parties talk confidentially with the mediator, disclosing their arguments and negotiation goals. The mediator goes back and forth between the session rooms, trying to estimate the strength of their claims and the likelihood of settling. They are not allowed to disclose what the other party revealed unless authorized. In open sessions, the parties gather to discuss disputed matters, bringing offers and counteroffers. The mediator cannot resolve the dispute, or give legal advice. They generally tried to guide the couples towards reaching their own solutions. Mediators must remain neutral throughout the process, facilitating negotiations between the parties and encouraging them to settle.
The Common Benefits of Collaborative Divorce and Mediation
Like collaborative divorce, mediation is confidential, meaning spouses, collaborative professionals and the mediator cannot reveal information shared during collaborative or mediation sessions. That applies to future litigation if collaborative divorce or mediation ends without success.
Sense of Control
Both collaborative law and mediation provide the parties with a greater sense of control than any litigated divorce. Unlike the court process where judges impose their binding decisions, parties in collaborative divorce and mediation have control over the process and the outcome.
As non-adversarial tools, collaborative divorce and mediation help the couple to process the dispute at a deeper emotional level, bringing genuine resolution and building productive co-parenting relationships.
The Use of Expert Teams
Experts are invaluable in every divorce process, offering help with complex financial issues and providing psychological assistance to the spouses and the children. Financial specialists and appraisers help resolve matters such as real estate valuation or determining the value of an ownership interests in the family business. In addition, child psychologists offer much-needed assistance to children undergoing a stressful divorce, ensuring they come out of the divorce without unnecessary emotional trauma and psychological burdens.
In litigation, experts play a much greater role than in collaborative divorces or mediation. In litigation, each party hires an expert who testifies before a judge in an adversarial procedure. The judges decides which experts and what testimony is more convincing. Often the litigated divorce becomes a battle of the experts with the commensurate, i.e. expensive bill. Contrarily, in collaborative divorce and mediation, when needed, parties often retain a single, neutral, expert in a particular field. Experts provide findings, information and data points, helping the parties to understand complex issues. They are neutral and unbiased, providing the parties, collaborative divorce attorneys, and mediators with accurate factual information regarding the case. The divorcing couple decide what weight to give the information they received from the experts, and what settlement agreements they want to reach. The divorcing couple decides their future.
A Collaborative Divorce Attorney That Can Help
With years of experience in resolving family disputes in an out-of-court setting, Ms. Krolikowska offers a unique approach to dealing with marital disputes.
As a collaborative divorce attorney, she will represent their clients diligently, working shoulder-to-shoulder with the opposing collaborative divorce attorney. As a mediator, she offers neutrality and impartiality in facilitating your negotiations. Contact Anna to see how she can help you in your divorce.
Please reach out today to schedule a consultation at 847-715-9328.