Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito turned in memorable performances in 1989’s The War of the Roses as a divorcing couple and a conniving lawyer in the throes of a divorce so bitter the movie is a comedy. If you are contemplating a divorce or are already going through one, watch the movie as an instruction manual on what not to do.
Unlike Douglas and Turner, most real-life divorcing couples prefer to reduce their emotional trauma—and their children’s—not to mention avoid the high cost of litigation. Mediation as an alternative to litigation has grown tremendously in popularity in the last several decades. Compared with traditional litigation, mediation generally offers:
- Lower costs;
- Less animosity;
- Greater harmony when finished, especially important where a continuing co-parenting relationship will exist;
- Greater compliance with an agreement because the terms are mutually negotiated and agreed upon;
- Privacy and confidentiality, unlike decisions rendered by the courts;
- Greater cooperation and compromise, leading to faster resolution.
Despite all of these advantages, not all divorces are suitable for mediation. Having the support of your own advocating attorney and the structure of litigation may be necessary when:
- One party is not able to negotiate for themselves;
- Substance abuse or mental illness is involved;
- Domestic violence (whether toward a spouse and/or children) is occurring.
In the last several years, a newer type of mediation called Integrative Mediation has gained popularity. In this process, two mediators work together on these different aspects of a conflict. The two are commonly a lawyer and a therapist. The lawyer addresses the legal requirements and options, while the therapist helps the parties talk to each other more effectively and, where necessary, assists them in looking at the conflict with a different perspective.
It is said that without emotions, you don’t have conflict, only a disagreement. Divorce, which includes logical and legal elements, is often highly emotional. Therefore, a process that allows for both elements to be addressed as needed has the potential to work through the conflict more effectively than one that is only one-sided.
Often, a financial advisor such as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) is tasked with helping create the required financial disclosures. A CDFA can also run cash flow analyses of proposed settlements so each party can see, in black and white, the financial results of what they might choose to agree to.
Integrative mediation can not only provide a more efficient and cost-effective process, it can also achieve a deeper, more comprehensive resolution.
The opposite of a War of the Roses.
Nathan Cobert is a Certified Financial Planner CFP®, Certified Financial Divorce Analyst (CDFA) and the owner of Divorce Financial Partners.
(“Certified Financial Planner®” is owned by Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. This mark is awarded to individuals who successfully complete the CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.)