There are several ways that spouses can settle a divorce in New Hampshire. The most common way is to use the court system to litigate a divorce. When a couple resorts to litigation to settle their divorce, there could be a number of negative consequences. For example, litigated divorces can be very stressful and often lead to hard feelings post-divorce between the parties. When the parties feel that they must compete against each other to get what they want and leave disputes for a judge to decide, both parties end up feeling like they did not get the results that they wanted. Divorcing couples are not the only ones that have noticed that litigation is not always the best option. Many divorce attorneys have turned to a relatively new concept in the past 10 years known as Collaborative Divorce.
The idea behind Collaborative Divorce is that the divorce process does not always have to be a fight even if the parties have areas of contention. An article that appeared in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last year describes collaborative divorce as a way for couples to settle their divorce "using lawyers trained in the practice to reach a mutually beneficial outcome without litigation”. Both parties are represented by their own attorney, but instead of working in opposition, they sit down and work together to reach agreements that meet the parties' need and goals. In all cases, a mental health professional known as a “coach” assists the parties in reaching disputes respectfully. Furthermore, depending on the couple's needs, other professionals such as financial planners, parenting experts can be consulted as well to help them make informed decisions.
Because Collaborative Divorce is still a relatively new method, very few studies have been performed measuring how it compares to other methods of divorce resolution. Many people who have used the Collaborative process, however, have reported success. For example, the post-Gazette article talks about a study that was performed by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) in 2010 that found that 90% of clients who used collaborative divorce reported that it successfully helped them resolve their divorce. Furthermore, 75% said that they would recommend the process to others. Additionally, 83% of the clients stated that they had children and more than 50% estimated that there estates were worth over $500,000.
One of the benefits of avoiding the courtroom during a divorce is that couples are free to find compromises that fit their specific needs. This allows them to be creative and find solutions that a judge would not likely order. For example, parties who cannot decide who is entitled to a beach house that they jointly own could use the Collaborative process to agree that one spouse would have access to it the first half of the year and the other spouse the second half of the year. In litigation, the property would likely either be awarded to one person or be ordered to be sold. Using the Collaborative process is a way for parties to get the results that they want even if it means finding an uncommon solution. The process allows the parties to make fully informed decisions by utilizing a team of professionals that consists of attorneys, financial, mental health and business experts.
The second biggest benefit of avoid taking a divorce to court is that this process tends to pit one spouse against the other. In a Collaborative Divorce, couples must work with each other to settle the divorce amicably. To show their dedication to working things out without the courts, everyone must sign a Participation Agreement at the beginning of the process pledging to not go to Court. This means that the attorneys advising couples are 100% committed to settlement. By choosing a Collaborative approach to divorce instead of a contentious one, relationships are likely to be stronger post-divorce. A bitter court battle often leads to bad blood between parties and can also have a very negative effect on any children involved.
In addition to the benefits listed above, a Collaborative Divorce is often quicker and less expensive than choosing a litigated divorce. If you are considering filing for divorce in New Hampshire, take a few moments to learn more about Collaborative divorce. Using this process will allow you to avoid going to court and let you be the one who ultimately decides how your divorce will be settled. For more information on collaborative divorce and to find out if it is right for you, contact a New Hampshire divorce attorney right away.