Key Factors when Choosing a Divorce Process

Michigan recognizes three different avenues to obtain a divorce: litigation, meditation and collaborative practice.  Litigation requires people to work through the court system to obtain a divorce.  The other two avenues avoid using the court system and offer a less costly divorce without the combat.    

With three avenues to obtain a divorce it is important for people to make an informed decision about the best divorce process for their particular situation. This determination requires careful consideration of several key factors. These key factors are identified and discussed below.  


Of all the key factors of a better divorce process, the ability of the spouses to communicate is crucial. Why? The more that couples can effectively communicate the less expensive the divorce and the better the outcome.  More than any other factor, the ability of a couple to communicate dictates the divorce process that each couple are equipped to handle. For couples who can do it, it is a resource they need to protect, not squander.  For those who cannot communicate, their divorce options are very limited.


Each divorce process has a different cost. It is important for people to consider their budget when choosing their divorce process.  Running through your budget in the middle of a divorce can leave you high and dry.  Whether the couple has limited or unlimited funds, careful planning will help them to reduce costs and maximize their budget.  


Each divorce involves the need for varying degrees of expertise.  There are divorce professionals in multiple fields, including legal, financial, tax, real estate and mental health.  The way experts are used in the various divorce processes varies significantly, impacting the cost and efficiency of the divorce.  Knowing what experts might be needed is an important preliminary step before proceeding with the divorce. 


Privacy is important to many people, especially when they are going through a divorce.  Divorce Court is a public arena and therefore divorce can put people’s private lives in the public eye.  This is important not always because secrets will be revealed in Court, but because the threat of the public eye can affect how people act during the divorce.  In particular, attorneys in a litigated divorce will attempt to use sensitive facts to influence judges and create a favorable narrative about their client’s case.


Since the divorce rate peaked in the 1980s, we have learned a great deal about how divorce affects children, and what it is about divorce that negatively affects them. 

A 1998 study by healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente and the ​Center for Disease Control of more than 17,000 adult patients ​showed that “Adverse Childhood Experiences” (“ACEs”) can have lasting effects on human health.  Some ACEs are things you might expect to find having such an effect, like physical or sexual child abuse.  But among the list of ACEs is one you might not expect: divorce.

When kids are exposed to very high levels of chronic stress or adversity — or really intense and scary experiences — it actually changes the way their brains and bodies are wired. And that can lead to changes in brain development, changes in the development of the immune system, our hormonal systems, and even all the way down to the way our DNA is read and transcribed. And that is what can lead to this condition that's now known as toxic stress — and put folks at an increased risk of lifelong health problems. The effects of these physical changes are not limited to physical health. ACEs and toxic stress greatly increases the risk of behavior problems, depression, substance abuse and under-performance in school. 

The research on ACEs shows that the conflict and chronic stress associated with divorce  - especially long term conflict and stress - is a health hazard for our children.  Keeping the kids out of the middle and reducing conflict during the divorce will help protect the children of divorce from long term harm.

Personal Service and Care

Most people expect that they will receive excellent service and personal attention and guidance through the divorce process when they begin a divorce process. This expectation is reasonable, given what is at stake and the high cost of divorce services.  But the emphasis on personal service and care varies considerably between different divorce processes. 


The speed at which a divorce gets from beginning to end - is one of the most important components of any divorce.  Sometimes both spouses want it over with as soon as possible. Others want to take their time and make sure that they have enough time to think through each decision.  In some cases the spouses are at odds over the speed of the divorce, with one wanting it completed as fast as possible and the other trying to slow it to a crawl, if not stop it altogether.  Finding the right pace for each divorce is a key element of a good divorce process.

Keeping  these factors in mind will help anyone who is considering a divorce to make a wise decision.  Learn more by contacting Cleland Collaborative Divorce for a free consultation. 


Categories: Other Musings