Contested divorces that go into the litigation stage in California can be emotionally and financially damaging for both spouses and their children. According to one divorce lawyer, litigated divorces can easily cost $100,000 and take two years to reach a verdict. At the end of this long and stressful process, ex-spouses may have become enemies and their financial accounts may have been drained to cover the cost of their divorce.

Spouses that are hoping to avoid a long, drawn-out divorce process have the option of using collaborative law as an alternative to litigation . A collaborative divorce usually takes about three or four months to complete and costs significantly less than one that goes to trial. In addition to saving time and money, a collaborative divorce is more private and personal than a litigated divorce.

A collaborative divorce involves multiple meetings with spouses, their lawyers, a financial professional and a mental health coach. During the meetings, spouses can set their own pace and agenda while they work out personalized solutions for property division and child custody issues. Unlike a courtroom divorce, all of the information that is revealed during the settlement process in a collaborative divorce will not become a matter of public record. If spouses can’t reach a settlement, they are free to drop out of the process and resume it at a later date.

Although collaborative divorces are usually a much smoother process than litigated divorces, they can still be emotionally difficult for the people involved. A family law attorney can help a client who is going through a collaborative divorce by ensuring that their position on financial and child custody issues is represented clearly.

Source: CNBC, “How to avoid a nasty and costly divorce war”, Constance Gustke, Feb. 26, 2015