Collaborative Divorce is as different as you can imagine from litigation. In a litigation approach to divorce, the lawyers are in charge. You take your problems to the lawyers, and they say, "Don't worry, we'll handle it." And the way that lawyers are trained to handle divorce-related problems, for the most part, is to take them to judges. That's the most expensive way that we have in the legal system of resolving issues. It takes a great deal of your resources to resolve problems that way. And worse than that, it causes emotional damage to families to take issues into the court system, which is adversarial by its nature. A very well known and respected judge in California says, "Family court is where they shoot the survivors." In Collaborative Divorce, on the other hand, the solutions are entirely generated by you and your spouse according to your own values and priorities. You are present at all negotiations, you participate actively in every step of the process, nothing's done without you there at the table, and we reach resolution when you say that this is good enough for you, not before. So the solutions that emerge from the Collaborative Divorce process are solutions that last.
Pauline H. Tesler is a Certified Family Law Specialist with Tesler, Sandmann & Fishman in San Francisco and Mill Valley, CA. She is also a pioneer in Collaborative Divorce and devotes her practice exclusively to the collaborative model. Tesler is a co-founder of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the author of two books on Collaborative Divorce. She can be reached at (415) 383-5671.