Divorce With Respect

COMPARATIVE CHART (Courtesy of Larry Gaughan)

Conventional Divorce Settlements Mediation & Collaborative Divorce
Inductive reasoning from appellate cases, detailed statutes, and trials; deductive reasoning from code criteria. Adding to or subtracting from code criteria; subjective considerations as suggested by the client(s) or by a relevant professional.
Looking backward to determine the present consequences of past actions or inactions; rulings based mainly upon past events or situations. Looking forward to formulate a future plan that is fair and workable and seeks to meet the legitimate needs and goals of each of the parties.
Ideas from the legal profession and other lawyers; reliance mainly upon legal sources, especially statutes and appellate cases. Ideas also from other relevant professions such as mental health professionals, financial planners, and accountants.
Zero sum game; if one party gets more, the other gets correspondingly less. Search for creative ways to “expand the pie” to address the needs of each party.
Keeping clients focused; managing difficult clients and not losing control. Understanding how the stages of the divorce process may affect clients’ responses.
Vocational specialist used to impute income to an unemployed or under-employed party. Career counselor to help a plan a career and suggest relevant employment opportunities.
Equitable distribution based upon statutory criteria for dividing property. Single impartial financial planner to help both parties plan sound financial futures.
Accountant hired to trace commingled property or dissipated marital assets and present evidence for one side. Impartial accountant hired by both parties to help negotiate issues of commingled or dissipated assets.
Evidence presented in court to establish that one parent is more experienced and competent than the other. Impartial evaluation by a skilled mental health professional or use of a parenting coordinator to aid parental cooperation.
Use of traditional terms such as “custody” and “visitation”. Use of terms such as “parenting plan” and focus on cooperative future parenting.
Use of civil discovery procedures to obtain information and documents when a voluntary exchange does not suffice. Contractual agreement to exchange information and documents that are reasonably necessary to the process.
Litigation and negotiation strategies; use of court procedures to influence settlements. Cooperative strategies to seek common ground and to achieve win-win solutions.
Formal detailed drafting based upon a tested office formbook. Drafting in understandable modern English; collaborative revision process.
What is a court likely to do? What is a fair and workable settlement?