Very often I see potential divorce clients who want an uncontested divorce, but they simply cannot agree with their partners on every detail. This is the point where it could turn really ugly, or it could remain peaceful and more effective.
It could turn ugly by becoming a litigation maze that turns up the anger, turns up the selfishness, and turns up the expenses of a divorce. This road, albeit effective in securing the divorce, most of the time causes a breakdown in communication between the husband and wife. If they never intend to see each other again, then this road may not be as bad as divorce is generally thought to be. If children are involved, or the husband and wife will likely remain in the same community and circle of friends and coworkers, however, then maybe litigation should be averted.
One of the key goals of the collaborative method is to have a more positive outcome for the splitting couple, and this is accomplished by working toward a settlement agreement without resorting to court hearings and court orders at every step. From my experience as a family law attorney and collaborative practitioner, collaborative divorce encourages more, productive communication with the other spouse. This keeps conflict reduced to the lowest levels possible and allows more fruitful agreements to be reached. This is true even when they could not work through the same decisions on their own without the quelling assistance of a collaborative team.
The other road of litigation and finger-pointing, without any precept of finding a solution to the problems at hand, breeds higher conflict and more limited choices down the road. Some of the exacerbated problems often show up in children of divorcing couples as behavior problems, depression, substance abuse and dependence, poor social skills, and poor academic performance. A collaborative divorce can help parents reduce conflict, and in turn, help prevent these negative effects on their children. See Blaisure, Karen; Saposnek, Donald T.” Managing Conflict During Divorce,” American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.
Financial issues often arise to a greater degree when the traditional litigation model is used for a divorce. Divorce is expensive, and a fully contested road is horribly expensive. Depending on the resources available to a divorcing couple, it is not uncommon to see a high conflict case be completed after the spending of $40,000 to $100,000. Who pays for this? Both spouses pay, regardless of who brought the money home. And this leads to more conflict, and this more conflict leads to less and less positive effects on the family.
So, before turning up the heat by abandoning the uncontested divorce, I would highly recommend finding a lawyer who is familiar AND experienced in collaborative divorce. Give peace a chance! Be open to the idea of creating goals, setting realistic objectives to obtain those goals, and creatively agreeing to keep your divorce uncontested. Find a practitioner who regularly practices in finding peaceful solutions and resolutions to couples in conflict without the means of a courtroom.