Once your marriage begins to struggle, you may find yourself thinking that a contentious divorce is inevitably going to be a part of your future. However, difficult, litigated divorces aren’t always the only solution for the end of a marriage, and they certainly aren’t the ideal solutions, especially for parents who shared children from their marriage.

Many couples could potentially resolve their issues through a process referred to as collaborative law or collaborative divorce. Instead of fighting one another over every cent of marital income and every minute of parenting time, divorcing spouses that choose collaborative law decide to work together and focus on the future.

By working together, divorcing spouses can have more say in the details of their divorce. They can also develop healthier attitudes toward one another that may prove quite beneficial if they must continue to co-parent after divorce. Collaborative law is an ideal solution for families who want to reduce potential hostilities and shield their children from the acrimony so common in litigated divorces.

Collaborative law can take several forms

Mediation is perhaps the most widely used form of collaborative law, but it is far from the only option. Mediation involves working with your individual attorneys and a mediator who helps you address various issues. It is also possible to go to arbitration if you want to work together but can’t seem to find a compromise that both parties agree on without outside help.

If you don’t want to involve yet another outside party, you and your spouse can sit down directly with your attorneys to negotiate a collaborative solution to various issues, such as the division of your assets and spousal support, as well as a parenting plan if you share minor children. The goal in any of these different processes is to allow the divorcing couple to maintain control over all of the terms set in their divorce.

Those terms become part of an agreement filed with the court as part of uncontested divorce proceedings. Provided that the documents receive all the appropriate signatures and the courts approve their contents, the agreements you reach in mediation can allow for a completely neutral and speedy resolution to the court proceedings.

Collaborative law doesn’t always work

Collaborative law can be a great way to speed up your divorce, keep your issues more private and protect your children from the drama of a court-based divorce. However, not every family should consider collaborative law.

In families where there is a substantial power differential between the spouses or where there is a history of abuse, manipulation or coercion, collaborative law may not work well. However, for the typical couple simply seeking to end their marriage and move on with their lives, mediation, arbitration or negotiations with an ex can mean a more affordable and less painful divorce.