Recent Wall Street Journal article espoused the benefits of mediated and collaborative divorces over litigated divorces

The June 6, 2008 edition of the Wall Street Journal included an interesting article entitled “Separate Peace.” It espoused the benefits of divorce mediation and collaborative divorce, particularly where children were involved. Although the article criticized the approach of “normalizing” divorce found in both mediation and collaborative divorce, which the author believed could lead couples to take its consequences too lightly and that divorce always should be seen as a tragedy, the article pointed to a growing body of evidence suggesting that normalizing divorce and surrounding it with expectations of cooperative behavior is far better for everyone involved than the two extremes of trying to prevent people from divorcing at all or encouraging them to “win” or prove fault in a divorce dispute. The article referred to the 20-year Ahron study which looked at 173 children from 98 divorced families. The study showed that:

[W]hen divorced parents were able to maintain a civil and at least minimally cooperative relationship with each other, the children experienced no long-term problems associated with the divorce. But when parents remained in conflict or totally disengaged from each other, their children continued to be distressed even 20 years later. … [Further,] [w]hen a parent maximizes his or her emotional position by undermining a child’s respect for the other parent, this “victory” carries long-term costs. … [C]hildren who report being put in the middle of their parents’ problems are less likely to be close to either parent as they age.

The article also showed that a mediated and a collaborative divorce are far less costly than a litigated divorce:

The average cost of a mediated divorce is less than $7,000 and of a collaborative divorce less than $20,000. This compares with nearly $27,000 for a divorce negotiated by rival lawyers and about $78,000 for a fully litigated divorce.

The article concluded by comparing the costs and benefits of a collaborative divorce as follows:

Cooperative divorces deny clients the short-range satisfaction of “beating” their exes, and they deprive attorneys of a lucrative source of income. But the benefits clearly outweigh these costs.

The article can be found here: “Separate Peace” –