Facing divorce can feel overwhelming, but separating couples should know that they are far from alone. The American Psychological Association reports that 40 to 50% of marriages in the U.S. ultimately end in divorce.

Feelings of loss, anxiety, anger or betrayal may make it difficult to ignore past and present pain, and some divorces end with bitter litigation. For some couples, collaborative divorce may be a healthier approach that ensures a fair, legal outcome while fostering communication, problem-solving and family-oriented agreements.

Getting fair representation

Unlike mediated divorces that rely on a third party to resolve disputes, in collaborative divorce, each partner retains his or her own legal representative. This ensures that negotiations are thorough yet fair. Each legal representative should focus on a “win-win” outcome in which both partners receive equitable treatment—even if they do not speak with each other directly.

Avoiding contentious litigation

The time, expense and intense stress involved in preparing for and undergoing a litigated divorce can take an enormous toll on families. Choosing a collaborative path may help to preserve already frayed feelings while working toward solutions that are respectful, cooperative and forward-looking. Deciding to collaborate rather than litigate also helps to keep the lines of communications open between separating partners, encouraging both spouses to take a more thoughtful approach to the process.

Finding a fits-the-family solution

When a divorce goes to court, the law has the final say about important decisions that may affect the whole family, from dividing property and financial assets to deciding on terms for child custody or support payments. A collaborative approach allows separating partners to reach agreements that work for their specific circumstances.

Planning for the future

When divorce means that former parents become future co-parents, there are many new decisions to make. Engaging in a collaborative separation process gives marital partners a chance to plan and prepare for the transition without the extra stress and time constraints that a legal battle may entail.