There is no magical procedure that can eliminate the pain of a breakup. But there are ways to preserve your assets and prerogatives through the ordeal—as well as your sanity.
Mark Baer reflects on the essential difference between litigation and the collaborative model: “How many people has anyone ever met that ever liked each other, or got along, after they were involved in a lawsuit with each other? I’m going to say, with very rare exceptions—no one. And yet with family dynamics you’re tied together for life. Not until the kids are eighteen—for life. Because, absent unusual circumstances, the kids will outlive the parents. Then you’re putting them in a dispute resolution process that causes, as a byproduct, conflict.”
And that doesn’t go away with the judge’s final gavel. There are bound to be further negotiations, hearings, and interactions with the ex, as property, custody, and support arrangements need to be revisited. While people may imagine that going to court will end their conflict, they’re apt to be sadly surprised. According to Baer, it actually makes it worse. “It won’t leave it at the same level,” he says. “It increases the level of conflict, because it is an adversarial process.”
As Joyce Tessier puts it, “If you’re going to get a divorce, the most important decision you can make is how you do it—the process.” The models described here give you some worthwhile options to consider as you make that decision.