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Divorce can follow a cooperative, collaborative format for some

A divorce can be an emotional roller coaster filled with tough human feelings such as hate, jealousy, revenge and the like. In California and elsewhere, however, there are alternative methods that may be more suitable for a couple that is splitting on a more friendly and amicable basis. A major alternative is called a collaborative divorce, and it looks at the process in a different light -- one might say a kinder and gentler light.

The gist of the collaborative divorce is that it rules out bitter litigation as the central focus of the process. The attorneys will instead design a settlement that fits the needs of both parties. This does not eschew negotiations, but it does rule out blaming each other, maneuvering for every advantage regardless of practicality, and seeing the divorce landscape as a field of nightmares dotted with landmines of varying destructive intensity.

In the collaborative divorce, the parties will meet with their attorneys and with financial professionals. They are likely to appear in court only at the end of the process, to formalize the final settlement papers. This friendly, cooperative approach to divorce is not for everyone: if one or both parties need to blame the other as the bad guy, it won't work.

Hiding assets and trying to grab every advantage imaginable doesn't fit this model. Convicting the other partner as the culprit who caused the breakup while anointing oneself as the injured victim is exactly the kind of approach that ends up in a lot of long and grueling litigation. The process looks to mental health professionals and child psychology specialists, along with financial planners, to work together to design a settlement to benefit all parties, including the children.

This effort carves a more peaceful and healthy transition into the future. Although the collaborative divorce is not necessarily a money-saving procedure, it can end up costing less than a traditional litigation-oriented process. It is not yet a prevailing model in California and other states, but it is expected to be a popular tool in the divorce attorney's arsenal of remedies in the months and years ahead.

Source: chicagotribune.com, "Column: New law gives thumbs up for amicable divorce process", Jackie Pilossoph, Oct. 18, 2017

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