In a collaborative divorce, the divorcing couple retains more control over the process, the timing, and the decisions affecting the ultimate settlement.
In a collaborative divorce, the couple is free to craft creative solutions regarding custody, property division, and most other aspects of their divorce. The approach of a judge is, by necessity, more “cookie-cutter.”
A July 2005 Money Magazine article estimated that if a typical (litigated) divorce costs $35,000, a collaborative divorce for the same couple would cost $12,000 to $20,000. This is likely due to the elimination of the discovery process and the need to hire costly expert witnesses.
The pace of a collaborative divorce can move as quickly (or as slowly) as the couple needs it to, since they are not at the mercy of the court system’s schedule. If the parties are highly motivated, the divorce can take place much more quickly than a litigated divorce.
People find the court system very intimidating and stressful. Collaborative divorce takes place almost entirely outside the court system.
Children are sensitive to discord between their parents. The collaborative nature of this process, as opposed to the combative nature of litigation, prevents children from being subjected to parents’ hostility and from being used as pawns. Additionally, the availability of a child specialist in collaborative divorce allows the children’s voice to be heard in the divorce process, something not usually available in litigation.
Marriage is not only a legal event; neither is divorce. In collaborative divorce, the couple has access to a financial neutral to help them sort out their money matters; a child specialist to speak to the children and inject their voice into the process, and divorce coaches to help them navigate the emotional hurdles of divorce. While these professionals charge fees, it’s often more efficient and less expensive to use them for their respective roles than to expect the attorney to manage all of these issues.
Because a collaborative divorce is geared toward settlement, the emphasis is on honesty, disclosure, and working together in a mature and respectful way. Contrast this with the escalating hostility and concealment of information in order to gain advantage that often takes place in litigation.
Often in a divorce, one party has wronged the other in some way. In litigation, apologies are discouraged because they might be “used against” one. In collaborative divorce, parties are encouraged to come to a “deep resolution,” which includes apologizing and offering forgiveness where appropriate.
Some studies have shown a higher reconciliation rate between couples in collaborative divorce than in litigation. That suggests that the are couples may be more likely to reconcile during the divorce process if it is dignified and respectful. Put another way, it is possible that some couples who choose litigation have marriages that might otherwise be saved.
Because the couple is involved in crafting a divorce settlement that meets their needs, they are more likely to comply with it and less likely to litigate regarding it post-judgment. Additionally, since the collaborative process tends to preserve goodwill between the parties and facilitate communication, to the extent that there are post-judgment issues to be dealt with, couples can often resolve them without resorting to the courts.
In a litigated divorce, anyone can go to the courthouse (or in Oakland County, online) and examine the entire paper trail of a divorce. In a collaborative divorce, details of negotiations are kept private.