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You might ask yourself if you want a collaborative divorce or litigation when you are facing the prospect of ending your marriage. While the concept of aggressive litigation for divorce is more prominent in the media and imaginations of couples contemplating a split it does not have to be that way.

When you choose to divorce using a collaborative divorce process you are mindfully acknowledging the emotional costs weighed on not only you and your spouse, but also on your children.

Collaborative divorce resolves your disputes outside of the adversarial environment of a court room. Rather, it is a collaborative problem-solving process wherein the parties sign an agreement with terms set for the open disclosure of documents, mutual respect and withholding the urge to disparage the other and insulating the children from the conflict. 

Cost Savings for Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce does not necessarily save costs or time but affords you the opportunity to save both while more importantly protecting what remains of the relationship so that co-parenting can proceed more smoothly.

Each party in the divorce will be represented by his or her own collaborative law attorney. When outside experts are needed, the two sides – and there are still two parties working toward agreement – agree to share the costs. Only one outside professional (e.g. real estate appraiser, business appraiser, parenting consultant, vocational evaluator, or accountant) is contracted to work in a cooperative fashion rather than paying for two to work as adversaries in your place.

Win-Win End Result

The primary goal of the process is to work toward an amicable solution and to create a “win-win” situation for all.

During collaborative divorce, neither party may seek or threaten court action to resolve disputes. The job of the two representative attorneys is to help them settle the dispute within the collaborative process.  No one may go to court.

If the collaborative process fails to bring about a mutually agreed upon resolution, then both attorneys must withdraw, and the process begins anew in the court system.  

The Litigation Route

Traditionally, divorce litigation can be highly adversarial and volatile. Disputes may escalate driving costs and attorney fees higher. So, too, the emotional costs of the dispute may run rampant. It is rare for children to escaped unscathed from this environment of divorce without exceptional measures being taken by both parents.

These are just some of the reasons that collaborative divorce is seen as a far more favorable alternative when the situation allows for it.

In clear cut terms, this table provides a comparison of the nature of collaborative divorce vs litigation.

LitigationCollaborative
Who controls the process?Ultimately, the Judge controls the process and makes final decisions.You and your spouse control the process and make final decisions.
Participation in the process?Mandatory if no agreementVoluntary
Court involvementCourt-basedOutside of court
TimelineThe Court sets the timetable and sets deadlines; often long delays.You and your spouse create the timetable and establish internal deadlines.
Degree of adversityThe process is adversarial in nature. Transparency can be a disadvantage.The process is based on mutual respect and integrity. Parties work together with neutrals in seeking what’s best for the family. Transparency between the parties is paramount.
Involvement of attorneysYour attorney seeks to win while the other side loses.Your Attorney works toward a mutually created settlement while still preserving your best interest.
Use of outside expertsIf necessary, each party will retain their own expert to support their respective position, often at great expense.The parties jointly retain specialists and experts to provide information and guidance for mutually beneficial solutions.
PrivacyCase is a matter of public record and non-confidential.Case is generally kept confidential.
CostsCosts are unpredictable and often escalate quickly.Costs are manageable, predictable, and often apportioned by the parties.