Domestic Diversions

Ways to avoid a nasty divorce

The ABA Journal emphasizes “efforts to take the nastiness out of divorce proceedings.”

Jill Schachner Chanen writes (excerpt):
[re: Collaborative Divorce]
An even more significant development is the growing use of what practitioners term a collaborative approach to divorce cases.

Borrowing principles of mediation, the collaborative approach calls for the parties—and, significantly, their lawyers—to reach a settlement without taking their case to court. This process encourages parties and their attorneys to freely exchange information at so-called four-way meetings. The collaborative process calls for the lawyers to withdraw from the case if a freely negotiated settlement cannot be reached, which requires the clients to retain new counsel to represent them in court.

A collaborative approach can be especially productive in divorces where children are involved and the parents are concerned about maintaining good relationships, Herman says.

He says a collaborative approach, like other forms of ADR, does not always suit the personalities, emotions and goals of clients. But “in the right case, it can be absolutely the right way to go,” he says.
[re Divorce Mediation]
Wider use of alternative dispute resolution is a key reason why more divorce cases are being resolved with less acrimony, say Hunt and other matrimonial lawyers.

“We feel that it has increased client satisfaction,” Chinn says. “We are resolving cases more quickly, for example, by moving immediately to a mediation date, practicing full disclosure, creating asset notebooks with the numbers and your position on them. It’s just to make it easy for the other side.”

Many jurisdictions now mandate mediation in divorce cases, especially where custody is at issue, Herman says. “In one of the counties that I practice in, there is an 80 percent success rate for [resolving] contested custody cases with mediation,” he says.

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