A client contacted me last week regarding a minor post-judgment question. Her divorce had been finalized about two years earlier. It was wonderful to hear that she and her former husband were doing an excellent job of cooperating on their children’s issue. She specifically expressed gratitude that their divorce was handled in a respectful way that had led to a better outcome than reported by her friends and family members who had “terrible” divorce experiences. That is why I do what I do. If a marriage can’t be saved, there is still an opportunity for couples to move forward in a way which models a good example of cooperation and respect for their children and one another. Parties don’t necessarily need to be truly “amicable” to be mindful that heightening their conflicts makes no sense.
The process the client and her ex-husband chose to use was a combination of mediation and “streamline” divorce. Basically they received assistance in formulating a settlement. Then, once the parenting and property issues were resolved (and reviewed by their attorneys), the court phase was handled very efficiently on a streamlined basis– minimizing both the expense and the family disruption that prolonged conflict brings. Studies have suggested that divorce settled prior to filing have a much higher probability of better outcomes — the parties report better satisfaction and are less likely to return to court in the future. From my experience, I am certain this is true.