According to recent studies, more and more couples are now opting for alternatives to divorce, including divorce mediation, collaboration or even "do-it-yourself divorce" kits found on the internet.
Many of these divorcing couples were the children of divorce back in the 1980s. During this time, they witnessed their own parents engage in epic divorce battles that resulted in significant legal fees, hurt feelings and a lifetime of ill will.
Having endured this struggle, these divorcing couples are now vowing to make the process as amicable as possible and spare their children from any unnecessary trauma. They feel that this approach will not only save time and money, but also help create a harmonious (albeit different) family dynamic.
"[Traditional divorce] makes it almost impossible to have a civil relationship going forward. You don't forget what it's like to be cross-examined by your spouse's lawyer. It sets [couples] up for years and years of not being able to communicate well," said John Zarzynski, family law attorney and co-founder of an Arizona divorce mediation firm.
Increasingly, couples are opting to utilize either divorce mediation or collaboration over traditional divorce.
In divorce mediation, the former spouses come together outside of the courtroom to resolve important issues such as spousal support, property division, child support and child custody. The entire process is managed by a neutral third party mediator who works to facilitate both conversation and compromise among the former spouses.
In collaboration, the former spouses each retain their own attorney and the four parties work together outside of the courtroom (often with the assistance of various experts) to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.
In terms of cost and time, both divorce methods offer couples a substantial advantage over traditional divorce.
According to Zarzynski, the average cost of divorce mediation is around $1,000 while the process itself takes roughly 70 days.
Whatever the reasoning, the benefits of divorce mediation or collaboration for divorcing couples cannot be overstated ...
• Tips for a Friendly Divorce: Couples Opt for Mediation, Collaboration, Do-It-Yourself Kits (Chicago Sun-Times)