How to Reduce Divorce Conflict

by Elizabeth Stock

Filing for divorce can be incredibly stressful. From child custody arrangements to spousal support, there are many important issues to resolve during a divorce. Both spouses may feel passionate about these issues, causing disagreements. However, there are several methods that you can try to reduce the divorce conflict between you and your spouse. Using these methods may help prevent a lengthy and costly divorce, both of which can cause you to feel stress.

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Arbitration

One method of resolving your disagreements without court supervision is through arbitration. Arbitration can be more casual than court and more affordable, making it less stressful for both spouses. In arbitration, you and your spouse discuss your issues with an impartial third party, who then makes a decision regarding the issue. Arbitration can be binding or simply a recommendation to the court. If the arbitration is binding, this means that the court will enforce the arbitrator’s decision regarding the issues. Whether the arbitration will be binding is determined before beginning the arbitration.

Mediation

In addition to arbitration, mediation is another method of alternative dispute resolution available during a divorce. Mediation is similar to arbitration: You and your spouse discuss your disagreements about your issues to a neutral third party. Unlike arbitration, the mediator’s role is to try to help you and your spouse reach an agreement regarding the contested issues. For example, the mediator will listen to both spouses and then facilitate a compromise, if possible. A court may require mediation in many situations, especially if a dispute arises concerning child custody.

Collaborative Divorce

You and your spouse can also choose to try to reduce conflict by reaching an agreement through the collaborative divorce process. In a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse are represented by attorneys who are trained to help you two reach an agreement that satisfies both spouses. Because the collaborative divorce process involves sharing information and the goal of preventing a court battle, if an agreement cannot be reached and the matter proceeds to litigation, the collaborative attorneys representing you and your spouse will withdraw from the case. It is helpful to sign an agreement prior to beginning the discussions outlining the goal of the collaborative divorce negotiations.

Other Considerations

Attending therapy during the divorce can help you and your spouse understand the feelings that you are having and help you deal with these feelings. In addition, therapy alone or with your spouse can be beneficial in trying to reach an agreement. It is important to remember that no one “wins” in a divorce, and both spouses must be willing to compromise to reach a settlement agreement.