Many people heading into divorce dread the prospect of ending up in a court battle. They don’t want the acrimony or the finger-pointing, they don’t want the long drawn-out process, and they don’t want to make an enemy of their spouse, even if they aren’t close anymore.
There are actually a number of ways to keep the divorce out of court. One way is for both parties to find attorneys who will agree to work cooperatively with each other to avoid escalating the case. The attorneys could agree to use a settlement conference mediator early in the case to start sorting out temporary arrangements before moving on to final arrangements, and to arbitrate any issues that cannot be agreed upon. This route is still an adversarial process but at a lower level of conflict. It is adversarial to the extent that the attorneys are still negotiating with each other based on what they believe a court would do.
To try and further reduce the level of conflict, there are several options that encourage the parties to work directly with each other to develop mutually satisfactory solutions. In Mediation, the parties work with a mediator to help guide their discussion with each other, while in Collaboration the couple is supported by a professional team through that discussion. The purpose of the team in a collaborative process is to help the couple have sufficient support and advice through the process that they can reach not just a settlement, but the best settlement they can devise. Mediation and Collaboration are more focused on finding what kind of settlement works best for the parties and less on what the court would do.