Divorce is a final legal disposition of all the legal issues around the termination of a marriage. The primary focus of these legal issues is:
1) A separation and division of the assets and obligations that were acquired during the marriage;
2) Decision-making responsibilities and residential arrangements for the minor children;
3) Child support; and 4) Spousal support where relevant.
Before actually starting the divorce process it is natural for a divorcing person to feel somewhat anxious about what will happen to them. This often means their primary focus and the question they want to immediately focus on and be answered by their attorney is:
“What will I get and what are my legal rights?”
It is the responsibility of the divorce attorney to re-focus the client, at least for the time being, to a far more relevant initial question. This question is actually the first and often the most important one that must be answered.
It is: “What settlement process am I going to use to actually get the divorce?”
The various divorce settlement processes vary widely in their impact on the client. They can range from cooperative and supportive to adversarial and litigation oriented. The stress level and equilibrium for the client can be significantly reduced in the former and is often greatly exacerbated in the latter. As most people are aware, the traditional adversary divorce with its ever-present possibility of taking the case to court rather than creatively and cooperatively attempting to reach settlement is inherently stress-inducing and cost prohibitive.
However, there are other ways to proceed where the focus is on an out of court divorce settlement and the process is supportive and collaborative in nature. Primary among these are Divorce Mediation and Collaborative Law. Both methods use cooperative strategies to reach resolution of the issues and both methods have a commitment to support communication between the clients and provide an environment that allows them to fully participate as a team in reaching mutually agreeable solutions that will not be at the expense of either.