When David Arquette and Courteney Cox announced their plans to divorce this past June, we learned a few important things that indicated that this is an amicable split. David, who as of this writing is representing himself, is seeking joint legal and physical custody, and has made no request for spousal or child support. The couple has stated they are comfortable with the boundaries they set during their two year separation and that, "We are always going to be a family, whether we're together or not."

Since David and Courteney are relatively wealthy, David may soon find himself over his head with the division of their joint assets after 13 years of marriage.  A growing number of couples are choosing Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to avoid the expense and hostilities inherent in divorce litigation, while still enlisting professional assistance with the challenges of dividing a family's finances in two.

ADR isn't for everyone, though.  Following is a brief explanation of the pros and cons of two methods that are growing in popularity:

In divorce mediation, the couple meets with a mediator or co-mediators who assist them in making their own decisions regarding all aspects of their divorce.

  • Pros – Most divorce mediations conclude in less than three months and cost only a few thousand dollars. The final settlement is flexible and something both parties are generally satisfied with. The couple learns to communicate better. All proceedings are confidential.
  • Cons – If you and your spouse are too angry at each other to sit down for a rational conversation, mediation will be a waste of time and money.  If your spouse is hiding money, or if there is an imbalance of power between the two of you and/or your lawyers, the settlement agreement may not be fair.  It may not work if there is a history of physical or mental abuse.

In collaborative divorce, your own attorney represents you and your spouse, respectively, but you share a team of neutral financial planners, a divorce coach and parenting consultants.

  • Pros – By foregoing court filings and sharing experts, the cost can be less than half of a litigated case. Although it takes longer than mediation, it shares similar goals of a mutually beneficial, creative solution but with a team, placing you on equal footing. The process is confidential.
  • Cons - If it fails, you have to start all over again from scratch – and with a new lawyer.

If you and your spouse are planning an amicable divorce like David and Courteney’s, you may wish to explore your options under ADR. However, if one or both of you are expecting something else, your best chances for a fair settlement will be with aggressive legal representation through the traditional court process.  Our office handles all kinds of divorce cases, and is happy to advise you on the best course of action in your circumstances.