In books, TV and the movies, divorce is rarely depicted as peaceful. One learns that couples will fight and bicker over every little piece of property that they may have shared. This is especially true if the couple in question shares children. However, this isn’t Hollywood, and there’s no reason that your divorce needs to be hostile or negative. A divorce, if approached correctly, can be quite cooperative.
“In my view, if the parties can agree on things, it’s always going to better than going to court and letting a judge decide,” says Tucson attorney Riisa Petersen, of the Petersen Law Firm Pllc. “I’ll always try to see where we can make things work, and find out if we can meet in the middle at all. A lot of times, that will make the parties a lot happier as a result, so I always look for that in the beginning.”
Indeed, the best divorces are typically those where both parties have agreed to fair terms long before they go in front of a judge. However, this involves both spouses being able to negotiate terms that are fair to each of them. But as Petersen says, “sometimes that is impossible.”
“What I’ll do is tell my client to basically talk to the other party about what they’re looking for to see if there’s anywhere we can meet in the middle,” Petersen says. The key to a cooperative divorce is a communication and open dialogue where both parties are willing to compromise. No party will ever be completely happy with the outcome of their divorce proceedings, but the idea is to find a negotiation that is at best fair.
No divorcing couple has more to gain from a collaborative divorce than a couple with children. However, couples with children usually have even more to bicker over than those couples that do not. This is perhaps why mediation is a requirement of divorcing couples with kids in Pima County.
“For me, the real meaning of the collaborative approach is trying to get the best outcome for both parties,” says Petersen. While those who are going through a divorce may have plenty to be angry about, it is always beneficial to swallow your anger and perhaps even your pride and attempt a divorce that is cooperative and collaborative. This is ultimately the best way to end your marriage fairly, especially if you have children together.