We blog about helping Long Island families to resolve conflicts in the most productive ways possible.

Mar 5, 2015BY: Roxane Polak

Collaborate, Don’t Litigate

Child photoYou are getting divorced, but do you really want a judge telling you how to raise your children?

Robert Emery, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Children, Families and the Law at the University of Virginia, focuses a light on this issue in his New York Times Opinion piece “How Divorced Parents Lost Their Rights” (September 7, 2014).

In his study of child-custody conflicts, Emery found a huge improvement in family relationships twelve years post divorce where the parents had used mediation, rather than litigation, to settle their disputes. Emery’s findings are not isolated. Indeed, they are consistent with a substantial body of research.

A judge will never know your family’s needs the way you and your spouse do. Litigation is a costly, vicious process. It is pure fantasy that a wise, impartial judge will hear you out and decide that you are right and your spouse is wrong. So don’t abdicate.

With mediation, although it is settlement-driven, there is only one lawyer in the room. So if you have different personalities, such as one of you is quiet and other is outspoken, or one partner has more business savvy than the other, one of you may be at a disadvantage.

In contrast, in Collaborative Divorce, each of you has your own experienced matrimonial attorney to advise you and help you settle all the issues of your divorce. To keep costs down and the process more efficient, there is communication among specialized team members. A financial professional will work on budgets, finances, valuations, net worth statements and report back to you and your attorneys. A family specialist will work on communication skills and parenting plans specifically suited to your family’s needs and your children’s developmental level. Lawyers are not billing for waiting time in court or drafting papers designed to attack and intimidate your spouse–something that breeds resentment for years after. They also do not spend time fighting purely emotional issues in court, which only creates obstacles, and is a main cause of lengthy and expensive divorce proceedings.

Emery recommends divorce processes such as collaborative law for the long-term emotional health of the family. How you go through your divorce now will affect your children in years to come. Improving communication skills and consideration of the needs of everyone in the family will reduce stress for your children and will enable them to remain connected to both their parents. The best process to achieve these goals is Collaborative Divorce.

Collaborative Divorce is a proven method of respectful conflict resolution, with more than twenty years of history in in the US and abroad. It keeps you in the driver’s seat by providing support, skills and sophisticated legal, financial and psychological advice.

The author, Roxane Polak, is a member of the Collaborative Divorce Resolutions law group of Long Island which is an association of attorneys, family specialists and financial neutrals specializing in the collaborative process. If you would like to learn how this alternative to traditional divorce litigation can work for you, feel free to contact Roxane Polak. Contact information along with a brief bio can be found on the author's profile page. Simply click or tap the author's image or the "View Profile" link on this page.

Filed in: Children and Parenting Issues,  Collaboration or Litigation or Mediation

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