The Three Approaches

Each of the three approaches results in divorce, but none of them use the same method to get resolution on children, property, and finances. Each approach is designed specifically for different needs.

No approach is inherently wrong, but matching the appropriate approach to the appropriate circumstance can mean getting through a divorce with the least expenditure of emotional trauma, time and money.

For a graphical contrast of The Three
Approaches please see:

The Three Approaches - Graphically

I recently had the opportunity of working with Anthony in his capacity as a mediator in a multi-party divorce matter involving a substantial amount of marital assets…. I and the two other attorneys who represented the parties mutually agreed to utilize Anthony’s services. I wanted Anthony to mediate the matter because of his reputation as a professional in the dispute resolution community and his ability to facilitate resolution. Because of the complexity of the matter…, Anthony met with each attorney prior to meeting with the parties…. While balancing the emotions in the room and grasping the legal issues, Anthony was able to get each party to understand the benefits of reaching an agreement. His hard work and respect for each party and their respective lawyer was consistent and established the foundation for the separation agreement. It was a pleasure working with Anthony and I would utilize his services in the future.

S.P., Esq., North Andover, MA

The Three Approaches to Divorce

If you are facing divorce, you have potentially three divorce approaches.

Each approach is designed for different needs. No approach is inherently wrong, but matching the appropriate approach to the appropriate circumstance can mean getting through a divorce with the least expenditure of emotional trauma, time, and money.

The three approaches are: Adversarial, Collaborative, and Mediation. While they share the same objectives: a Massachusetts divorce and resolution on issues surrounding children, property, and finances; neither uses the same method to reach resolution.

The Adversarial Approach

In The Adversarial Approach, each spouse has their own lawyer who is obligated to advocate for their best interests. If parties are unable to reach agreement, then they must turn to a third person - a judge or arbitrator – to resolve what the parties cannot. A judge or arbitrator resolves an issue or issues by hearing the evidence then issuing a Judgment (by the judge) or an Award (by the arbitrator). How evidence is presented depends upon whether the parties choose a trial before a judge or a hearing before an arbitrator. See Arbitration.

Adversarial Divorce is best suited for resolving deep-seated disagreement where, for example, there may be little trust between spouses, complaints of parental incompetence, or allegations that the other party is hiding assets.

In Adversarial Divorce, each lawyer zealously advocates his or her client's interests and must be prepared for a court trial or an arbitration hearing, if necessary, to protect those interests.

Because of the nature of the process, Adversarial Divorce is usually the most expensive in time, emotion, and money. Court trials take longer to schedule and happen. They are "rule heavy"; more subject to appeal and usually more expensive, all in contrast to arbitration where the parties have total control in selecting the arbitrator, setting time schedules and adopting rules.

For more information on this approach, go to The Adversarial Approach.

The Collaborative Approach

In Collaborative Divorce, each party has their own attorney who is specially trained in the practice of Massachusetts Collaborative Divorce.

In Adversarial Divorce, a lawyer must always prepare for and be cautious of a client being put in a position that could be detrimental at a court trial or arbitration hearing. In The Collaborative Approach, without the threat of trial or hearing, each party is free to consider all options for obtaining a satisfactory resolution. In the Collaborative process, there is more freedom for creative problem solving. Both attorneys and both spouses have one goal, the collaborative resolution of all issues without the threat of a trial or arbitration hearing. Both attorneys collaborate in gathering all information necessary to resolve disputed issues.

In working toward their goal of resolution, attorneys and spouses use the professional services of specialists in certain areas. For example, a Financial Neutral will help the parties and attorneys resolve financial or tax issues efficiently. Spouses and attorneys often credit such specialized professionals as the reason for efficient resolution and settlement.

If one party decides to convert to Adversarial Divorce, both attorneys must withdraw and any information gathered cannot be used in Adversarial proceedings. Adversarial proceedings are resolved by a court trial or arbitration hearing. (See Divorce Arbitration.)

Collaborative Divorce is best for parties who trust each other; prefer to each have their own attorney and do not want to be involved in any adversarial proceeding.

For more information on this approach, go to The Collaborative Approach

The Mediation Approach

In The Mediation Approach, divorcing parties usually do not have an attorney at their side but instead meet together with a neutral called a mediator. With the mediator, they attempt to resolve issues face-to-face.

The role of the attorney in Divorce Mediation is to act as an advisor or consultant "on call".

Rather than concentrating on legal positions, the mediator will help the spouses to concentrate on "interests" rather than "positions." For example, your spouse's position might be that she is entitled to the van; therefore, you should get the sedan. If you disagree, only a judge or arbitrator can decide who gets the van. In Mediation, the question is not who is "entitled" but rather why the "interest" in the van? If your spouse wants to use the van to start a business and earn an income, then you, realizing that you may be paying less alimony, may agree to give up the van.

Since the costs and delay involved with litigation are avoided, Divorce Mediation is usually less expensive than Adversarial Divorce.

For more information on mediation, go to The Mediation Approach.