How You Divorce Matters
The best approach is one that works for you. It is important to understand the options so you can make an informed decision and build a divorce team that is productive and supportive to your desired outcome.
Here are four approaches to divorce in order of most control over the outcome to least control. SoulFINANCIAL has experience with all of these approaches.
The Kitchen Table Divorce
A "kitchen table divorce" refers to a type of informal divorce process where both parties work out the separation details amicably and without formal legal proceedings. This process typically involves the couple sitting down together, often at the kitchen table, to discuss and agree on the various aspects of their divorce, such as property division, child custody, and alimony.
The main advantages of a kitchen table divorce are its low cost and simplicity, as it avoids expensive legal fees and complex court proceedings. However, it is important for both parties to be on relatively good terms and willing to cooperate. They should also be aware of their rights and the legal implications of their agreements.
It is recommended to have a lawyer review any agreements made to ensure they are fair and legally binding. Even in a kitchen table divorce, legal and financial advice can be crucial in avoiding problems later on.
Role of CDFA: usually as a financial neutral.
The Collaborative Divorce
A collaborative divorce is a process where divorcing couples work together with their respective lawyers and, at times, other professionals such as financial neutrals and mental health specialists to avoid the uncertain outcome of court and to achieve a settlement that best meets the specific needs of both parties and their children. This approach is voluntary, transparent, confidential, and requires the divorcing couple and respective professionals to sign a Participation Agreement.
The advantages of a Collaborative Divorce are many - there is no court intervention, it is a goals-based process, the divorcing couple maintains a high degree of control over the outcome, and it facilitates open communication in a safe space with professional advice on tap. The divorcing couple can be most creative in developing their agreement with this approach. This process and the professional team can be invited back in the future should there be any decisions that need to be revisited.
While not always the cheapest approach, many experienced professionals (including SoulFINANCIAL) agree it is the highest quality approach to divorce. With the right mindset and professional team in place, collaborative divorce can be more cost-effective and quicker, as it avoids the “telephone game” of back-and-forth messages, and lengthy and often expensive court proceedings.
Collaborative Divorce is practiced globally. In 2022, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) was honored to learn it was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts in making divorce more peaceful through the Collaborative Divorce model.
Role of CDFA: as a financial neutral only.
The Mediation Approach
Mediation in the context of divorce is a voluntary, confidential process where a neutral third party, known as a mediator, helps divorcing couples resolve disputes and reach an agreement on various aspects of their separation. Each party may engage separate legal counsel, financial advice, or other professional specialists as needed. Those professionals may or may not be present during the mediation sessions. Mediation encourages communication through facilitated dialog and can help improve the couple's ability to negotiate and work together. This process is generally less adversarial, cost-effective, and may lead to faster resolutions than court.
Compared to a collaborative approach, couples still hold control over their outcome, but mediation may be less structured, the party’s attorneys are more limited, and mediation relies on the neutral facilitator versus being guided by a team of professionals with specialized expertise.
Role of CDFA: financial advocacy.
The Court Room Approach
A litigated divorce refers to a divorce process where the couple cannot agree on one or more key issues, and therefore, the case is taken to court for a judge to make the decisions. Settlement attempts can be made prior to trial but if negotiations fail, the case ends up in the court room. Here, both parties present their arguments and evidence, and witnesses can be called to testify. After hearing the case, the judge makes a legally binding decision on all contested issues. A divorcing couple has no control over the outcome.
Litigated divorces are often more time-consuming, very expensive, emotionally taxing compared to other methods of divorce resolution like collaborative divorce or mediation and are not family friendly. They can also be more adversarial, as each party is often fighting for their preferred outcome in court. Fortunately, a small percentage of divorces go to trial.
Role of CDFA: as an expert witness.
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