Emotional and Financial Costs of Traditional Litigation
Traditional litigation pits the spouses against each other in fighting mode. Instead of focusing on what is best for each one of them, each tries to be the winner. The attorneys inundate each other with discovery requests. It takes time for staff to prepare the documents requested. This costs money in billable time.
Instead of resolving issues with negotiation, court hearings are scheduled. For every one hour spent in court, the attorneys need three hours to prepare. A half-day trial means three hours in court. Three hours in court means nine hours to prepare. Multiply that by two for each attorney and the costs go up and up.
Add to these costs the cost of depositions and drafting the final order and judgment after the trial is over. The final judgment in a litigated divorce is almost never as good as it is when the couples use the collaborative process.
The judge begins with the presumption of dividing everything in half. The judge only hears snippets and doesn’t have time to get creative. If one party is unhappy with the outcome, then there are more costs for an appeal.
Emotional and Financial Benefits of a Collaborative Divorce
In a Collaborative Divorce, a team of divorce professionals help the spouses identify and resolve the issues of their divorce. The team initially meets and helps the couple communicate in the safe environment where they can each express their concerns out loud.
At the very beginning of the Collaborative Divorce, the couple discusses what are the issues and what are their ultimate goals at the end of the divorce. The team will help the couple to develop creative solutions. For example, the team looks at the quality of each asset and liability and what it means going forward. Perhaps it is the couple’s best interest to keep an investment account that is in one spouse’s name intact, and the other spouse receives another asset. They may decide not to sell the house until their children finish school.
Financial experts help with the division of assets, spousal support, budgeting, and other issues so that both parties go forward with understanding the needs of both spouses and can feel their needs are being met.
Mental health professionals help the couple with the emotional issues. They each feel supported, and their feelings are not discounted.
Since the settlement agreement is one that they put together themselves, they are more likely to be content with its terms and to follow its provisions. Their agreement will become the court’s final order in the divorce case.
The emotional and financial costs of divorce are high. But a Collaborative Divorce minimizes these costs by placing control in the decision-making process with the people who are truly affected. And, that makes dollars and sense.
For over 20 years, Catherine Eaton of the Eaton Family Law Firm, has practiced in marital and family law. Ms. Eaton has served as a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator since 2005. After litigating and mediating family cases over the years, Ms. Eaton understands the value of resolving matters outside of court. She serves as the Vice President of her practice group, the Palm Beach Academy of Collaborative Professionals, and volunteers with the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. She is a member of the 2021-2022 Leadership Academy for the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals.