Constance Ahrons, a therapist, educator, and champion of friendly divorce, recently lost her battle with lymphoma late last year. Ms. Ahron, an Emeritus Professor of Sociology at University of Southern California, had sought to diminish the stigma of divorce throughout her life. She was a well-known champion of collaborative divorce, authoring the seminal book The Good Divorce: Keeping Your Family Together When Your Marriage Comes Apart.
Although we often hear the adage that one out of two marriages will result in a divorce, that is flawed as a statistic. But it still remains that approximately 18 percent of all marriages ended in dissolution in New York in 2020. And while most divorces will invariably take a significant emotional toll on the divorcing couple and their families, more are looking toward mediation and a more collaborative approach to ending their marriage.
As Ms. Ahrons wrote, “A good divorce is one in which both the adults and children emerge at least as emotionally well as they were before the divorce.”
Before Litigation, There Are Other Options
As in all marriages, all divorces are different. There have been years of resentments and hurtful behavior in many, and that will be difficult to navigate in the best of settings.
But for those interested in coming to divorce in the least contentious way possible, mediation and collaborative divorce allow both parties to come to the table to problem-solve before moving into a contested divorce.
Mediation allows for negotiation between both partners with the assistance of a trained mediator. This third-party mediator does not represent either spouse but helps guide them toward communication and resolution that both individuals can work with.
A mediator is trained to guide a divorcing couple in matters that they may see what options they have that can work to both their benefits. Mediation not only saves money and time in the divorce process but allows both partners to design their own settlement without outside interference that can create even greater discord. At the resolution of a mediation, the mediator will draft an agreement that then goes before the court as the basis for the divorce settlement.
Collaborative divorce is another viable option for divorcing couples who still want to negotiate issues before moving into litigation. The goal of a collaborative divorce is for spouses to come to decisions in the least contentious way possible and maintain control over their own futures before it goes before the court. In a collaborative setting, both spouses will be able to navigate key issues with the assistance of their attorneys to work out agreements that work best for both of them and their family.
In a collaborative divorce, both spouses will maintain their own legal counsel and work through all the major issues that will need to be addressed, such as property and debt distribution, child custody, and other matters. But, unlike traditional negotiations between attorneys who are also preparing for litigation, collaborative divorce is based on open communication and transparency. If their collaborative efforts fail, the couple can then go forward toward litigation.
The Benefits of Uncontested Divorce
Contested divorces are typically hostile, expensive, and time-consuming. The couple’s future is not in their own hands but inevitably in the court’s, which may make decisions that neither party likes, but they will have to abide by.
Whether a couple chooses mediation or a collaborative divorce effort, coming to agreements without conflict sets a couple up for a future of transparent communication and problem-solving. As Constance Ahrons championed, families going through divorce need more and continuing supportive frameworks to the divorce process and their family structure post-divorce. We are now seeing more of this happening with new collaborative divorce efforts and the evolution of better co-parenting plans.
If you are considering divorce or are in the middle of a contentious divorce, you may be able to benefit from mediation or collaboration. The skilled Brooklyn divorce lawyers at Bukh Law would be happy to explain your options and how they may work to your benefit. Contact us for a free case evaluation.