1. You want more enemies
It is true that there is no guarantee that going through the litigation process will result in your spouse being your eternal enemy and no guarantee that going through the collaborative process will result in your spouse being respectful of you forever. But, reality is that no one likes to answer detailed, accusatory questions about themselves, and those types of things can and do happen routinely in the litigation process. Both detailed written discovery and cross-examination — in deposition and open court — happen as a matter of course in litigation, while neither is part of the normal collaborative process.
2. You want more stress in your life
Going through a divorce is stressful. That is true whether you are in the litigation model or collaborative model. But ask yourself which is more stressful — 1) The anticipation of a meeting with professionals that you have hired to help you resolve your issues, or 2) The anticipation of a courthouse proceeding in which you have no idea who will decide the matter at hand, whether you will be called in front of the tribunal to answer questions under oath, or what the limits of the outcome are. The meeting with professionals is Collaborative Divorce; the other is what can happen in litigation.
3. You like talking about your private life in front of total strangers
Although it is true that many divorces occur in which there are no contested hearings, it is also true that any successful Collaborative Divorce has no hearings. If you do not choose the collaborative route, you will be in the litigation model by default. In that model, you have little or no control over whether you will be summoned to court to answer detailed personal questions in front of total strangers. For most people, that is an uncomfortable situation.
4. You don’t want help from a team of experienced professionals
In Collaborative Divorce, there are typically two neutral, experienced, trained professionals, in addition to your attorney helping you through the divorce process. Although you could hire similar professionals to help you during a litigated divorce, most people don’t. And even if you do, the professionals’ access to information in the litigation process is not the same as what they get in the collaborative process, so their ability to provide comprehensive assistance may be limited.
5. You are a liar
If you do not have the ability to tell the truth, Collaborative Divorce may not be for you. Moreover, if you are married to someone who absolutely cannot be trusted to tell the truth, you need to consider whether there are things that can be done to verify what your spouse is going to say during the divorce. Specifically, you may very well need information from your spouse regarding the value of your estate. That is true in either the litigation or collaborative models. There are things that can be done in both models to verify the answers you receive. However, two things are certain – 1) sometimes people get away with lying in collaborative and 2) sometimes people get away with lying in litigation. Determined liars sometimes get away with it in either process. The question of which is best for you needs to be made with the advice and counsel of an experienced, trusted attorney that is dedicated to looking out for your best interest.
So that’s the conclusion: Find a lawyer that you can trust and listen. If you’re trying to decide between collaborative or litigation, you need to talk to someone that really understands both. Friends and family are great to have for support, but unless they are experienced litigation attorneys with training in Collaborative Divorce, their ability to help you make this decision is limited. Get the help you need.