Using Collaborative Divorce with High-Conflict People

Collaborative divorce is a negotiated divorce settlement, made without ever stepping foot in a courtroom. Each spouse has a lawyer, and the lawyers work together, outside of the court setting, to arrive at an agreement. And if you cannot reach a settlement, either of the divorcing parties may decide to take the case to court. (Although, if this happens, both sides must find new legal representation.)

Advantages of Collaborative Divorce

Unlike the combative structure of a court proceeding, collaborative divorce is designed to be respectful, so you’ll avoid giving an aggressive ex the fight he wants.

Collaborative divorce allows couples to keep a low profile, since the divorce isn’t on the public record. This can help keep tempers in check, since no one is being publically shamed.

Professionals—like appraisers, custody evaluators and accountants—may be called in to help. They have valuable information for the negotiation, but they also can diffuse conflict. It’s hard to argue with an accountant’s certified balance sheet: The numbers are the numbers, no matter what. When it isn’t the ex pointing the finger, but instead, an expert on child development, the combative ex may be more willing to discuss custody plans.

Finally, since collaborative divorce involves meetings, instead of hearings, the structure can be tailored to a couple’s needs. You can schedule in more time for discussion as needed.

Pitfalls of Collaborative Divorce

There are some problems, however, with taking the collaborative approach with high-conflict partners. First, this route truly depends on the will of the two parties. If one truly and consistently isn’t cooperative, it’s impossible.

Also, a failed collaborative divorce can be expensive and time-consuming. That’s because once you call off negotiations and choose to go the trial route, you need to find a new lawyer and basically start over.

While collaborative divorce isn’t for everyone, it can be a good option if you’re involved in a high-conflict divorce. For help determining if it is a good fit for you, contact us at Westchester Family Law to schedule a confidential consultation.

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