Divorce can be acrimonious, but for those couples that are amicably going their separate ways, or maybe just want to avoid the trauma of a courtroom, something called Collaborative Law, a fairly new process offered as an option in most states, may be the way to go. "At the end of the day, it can be a better outcome because both parties arrive at a solution, rather than leaving it to someone in a black robe," says McCormack, who says about 10% of her clients decide to use the collaborative method. It can also be much less expensive and less taxing on children.
While each party is represented by attorneys who are certified in collaborative law, each must also sign a contract committing to stay out of court. If the process falls apart and the parties decide to take it to court after all, they need to start from scratch and hire new lawyers. "You don't put away the law, but you become a team dedicated to deciding what is best for the future of you both," she continues. More information can be found on collablaw.com.
Other people might choose to use a mediator, a somewhat different approach. Here, an independent third party trained in mediation is retained to help each party reach an agreement. Lawyers can be consulted during the mediation process, but usually aren't (to save money). However, each party must individually consult a lawyer before the mediation agreement is signed. Mediators (you can locate one near you on Mediate.com) can recommend "mediation-friendly" lawyers. Depending on how complex the divorce is, one can have anywhere from a few to a dozen mediation sessions. Divorce coach Margery Rubin warns that mediation will not be successful unless both parties are communicative and trust each other.