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Collaborative divorce in Maryland: A gentler alternative

Last April 26, we posted a piece on this blog about the benefits of a collaborative divorce in Maryland ("Reduce stress with divorce by working together"). This style of divorce appears to be gaining in favor, as opposed to the traditional notion of fighting it all out in court. One problem with a litigated divorce is the cost, together with the wait to have one's case heard by a judge. On the other hand, a collaborative approach involves the couple working with a team of interdisciplinary professionals to solve problems in a supportive and cooperative effort.

The idea of divorce mediation grew out of general dissatisfaction with contested proceedings. In mediation, the parties typically do not have their attorney present during sessions, and the mediator's goal is to strike an agreement between the spouses. Any other professionals utilized are hired by the respective parties.

In a collaborative divorce, each party has the benefit of their attorney throughout the proceedings. In addition, a team of coaches is engaged to help the couple. These professionals could include therapists, financial advisors or others that fit the needs of the parties. Usually, an attorney who regularly handles collaborative divorce has a team of professionals with whom he or she works on a consistent basis.

Just like every marriage, every divorce is different. In a collaborative setting, the idea is to recognize those differences in a supportive setting. While each party is encouraged to be heard, the team works toward assessing the reality of the circumstances so as to fashion a settlement that both reflects it and meets the needs of each party. On average, it is said that this type of divorce is less acrimonious and costs less as well. Those Maryland residents contemplating divorce proceedings may benefit from considering this important alternative to the litigated process. Of course, not everyone will find this alternative suitable to their needs, and the right guidance might help in choosing the best approach to achieve a fair and comprehensive divorce settlement.

Source: Hartford Courant, "Divorce, Collaborative Style," Anne M. Hamilton, Sept. 27, 2012

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