Mediation, collaborative law and litigation have some significant differences, but they can all be improved with some relatively simple attitude adjustment. If you can get past the all-too-natural desire for petty reprisals and revenge, then you are already on the right track. Here are some tips to keep you in the fast lane.
Have a plan: Think about what is most important to you. What goals do you have for the children’s education or the post-divorce financial outlook in general?
Consult with an attorney: You may have gained a little knowledge about divorce from people you know, but I have seen over the years how a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Contacting an experienced family law attorney is the very first thing you should do. Your attorney will tell you what your rights and responsibilities are.
Form a team: Think about having a financial expert or a divorce coach even if you’re going to use mediation, collaborative or some other type of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process.
Be honest: When you go to see your lawyer, tell them everything. Don’t ambush them with a totally new aspect to the case later on.
Draw up a good faith parenting plan: Decisions have to be made about healthcare, education, religion, extracurricular activities. Who is going to be the final decision-maker?
Know your high point and low point: In other words, this is the stage to make it all about the money. What is your best case and what is your worst? With this in mind, it will be easier to make decisions from then on.
Strive for settlement: Make every effort to settle the matter, whether you using any type of ADR model or litigation. You’re always better to settle than to go all the way to court and let the judge decide.
All of these can be applied to either the mediation, collaborative or litigation models. In the past, the team approach has been characteristic of collaborative divorce, but some mediators are beginning to follow suit. Terms like integrated mediation and team mediation are popping up more and more among mediators, who are using them to describe a new style of mediation that incorporates proven team- building techniques from collaborative divorce.
People like Certified Divorce Financial Analysts (CDFAs), child and family therapists and divorce coaches, can all be especially beneficial in the litigation model, where each side has their own team to support them.
Is your team on a winning streak?