One of my main focuses as a family law attorney is helping those clients who are going through a divorce to stay focused on the bigger picture and finalize their divorce rapidly and keep on friendly terms as much as possible. Many people going through a divorce may have witnessed some volatile family separations and are vowing to do it differently. Even if their own parents didn't divorce, many kids saw how hard it was on their friends. Thankfully these days more soon to be ex- couples are opting for a friendly divorce, whether through mediation, collaboration or the more traditional approach. The majority of people choosing friendly divorces are those with children. Often, it may be easier to have a friendly divorce when there are no children or assets to potentially disagree on.
However it's done many people want the divorce process to be more amicable. In the end, they save time, money and increase the odds that they might actually still be friends. The biggest beneficiaries of a friendly divorce are the kids. You've made the decision that your marriage isn't going to last - why prolong the agony with an adversarial approach. The sooner you can come to an agreement on things like property division, custody, child and spousal support; the sooner you'll be able to get on with your life and make that fresh start. Many people going through divorce can't stand to be in the same room together, let alone think about spending time dealing with each other in the future. But let's face it, if you have children together you are going to have to have some sort of a relationship with each other regarding the children, so the more civil it is the better.
Most divorce cases still are handled in the traditional way, with attorneys on each side trying to get the best deal for their client, often involving nasty disagreements over custody, child support, property settlements and finances. Divorcing couples typically aren't feeling friendly toward each other anyway, and contentious experiences in court can make those feelings even worse.
Mediation is one kind of a friendly divorce. Collaboration is another, in which both parties retain their own attorneys but also use experts and work together for a solution for everyone. Couples don't set foot in court in either instance. Proponents say it reduces the emotional costs on everyone; both children and adults start their new lives on relatively stable ground. In California, mediation is mandatory for contested child custody and visitation.
Instead of both parties going out to find their own expensive and aggressive lawyer to be adversaries, it is possible to sit down together on the same side of the table and figure out what would be best for all parties especially your kids. Even though your lives might now be going in separate directions, it's still possible to look at what is going to be best for each other and your children.
How parents interact and handle the kids during the initial separation and early in the divorce sets the tone for the years ahead. Research shows that kids who remain close to both parents are less stressed by divorce, and dads who are connected to their kids are more likely to keep up with their obligations, financial and otherwise.
If you're considering divorce, make sure that you get the right advice from the start, especially if it's your intention to keep the divorce as friendly as possible. My goal is to keep things on friendly terms as much as possible, even with a traditional divorce. The key to this is being able to rapidly get agreements in place and focusing on what will happen in the future. I offer a free initial confidential consultation where you can get all your questions answered and get some advice on the best way to move forward in your particular circumstances.