If you pay any attention at all to news stories around divorce, you’re aware that the holiday season usually brings at least one article about how unhappy couples, determined to stay together through the end of the year, make plans to divorce once the New Year arrives. The expense and stress of the holidays prove to be the last straw for couples who have already been contemplating divorce.
An article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from earlier this month had an interesting finding: While it appears that couples still do make plans to divorce after the holidays, and while December has the lowest number of divorce filings, the peak actually comes in March. The article quotes a financial professional who works with divorcing couple, who observed that “the three-month period after December also is when husbands and wives are taking time to choose their divorce lawyers. They are deciding on how to proceed — traditional litigation, a collaborative divorce, or mediation.”
It’s a good sign that couples aren’t just rushing into divorce and are weighing options that include collaborative. While the article mentioned the wide gulf between what a mediated case and a litigated case costs, it didn’t provide as complete a picture as we would have appreciated. It’s true that a litigated divorce can be much more expensive than a mediated divorce, but when factoring in which type of divorce might work best for you, you should look at the complexity of your case, what your priorities are, and where you and your spouse stand on the issues.
Collaborative divorce is what we like to call a cost-conscious means of divorce — while the level of involvement of your lawyers, financial professionals, and mental health professionals vary based on the complexity of your case, everyone on the team is working toward a solution. Financial and mental health professionals typically have lower hourly rates than lawyers, and have specialties that lawyers don’t have. Meetings depend on your schedules, and they’re oriented toward resolving issues.
If you’re contemplating divorce options in the New Year, you should look toward collaborative divorce to control costs, expedite solutions, and provide the structure to create a solution. A good place to start looking is on the Collaborative Law Institute of Texas’s Locate a Collaborative Law Professional page, which allows you to search by specialty and location.