Divorce mediation and collaborative divorces are gaining traction

Alternative dispute resolution is a popular alternative to adversarial litigation in California and nationwide. A special form of ADR is divorce mediation, which is an attempt to guide the parties to a resolution through the assistance of a neutral mediator. Closely related is the concept of a collaborative divorce.

In a collaborative divorce, both parties and their attorneys commit to a cooperative process that involves only brief contact with the court. The commitment is to engage in a collaborative process where each party seeks the best for all concerned, including the children. There is an interdisciplinary approach that includes a psychological expert, a financial expert and a child specialist where applicable.

A key participant in the collaborative process is a divorce coach. There may be one coach for both parties or two divorce coaches so that each spouse has his/her own. The divorce coach is an expert in the emotional and psychological factors that people adopt during a separation. By "translating" the emotions and inner dynamics playing out in each spouse, the divorce coach helps to bring both parties onto an equal communicative level where they can begin to understand each other without all of the emotional baggage.

The estranged spouses who are qualified to participate in this type of process must show the potential to put personal grievances to the side. The process also gives the parties the outlet to initially express those feelings to work them out of their systems. The beginning work with the family law attorney and then with the divorce coach will establish a person's readiness to encounter the negotiations without the bitterness that can only lead to escalating and very expensive litigation.

California family law has a place for alternative dispute resolution, including divorce mediation and collaborative processes. These innovations are likely to be at the vanguard of the family law system in future decades. The procedures do exist here and are available now for those who are mature enough to engage and participate.

Source: huffingtonpost.com, "The Collaborative Divorce: A Litigator Explains", Robi Ludwig, Nov. 2, 2017

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