As same sex marriage has become legal in more states, unfortunately, divorce between LGBTQ couples is now also on the rise. Too often, traditional litigated divorces become quite adversarial, making a painful situation even more bitter. In contrast, alternative dispute models such as collaborative law and mediation are better options for any divorcing couples, but these techniques may particularly resonate with the LGBTQ community because they honor the way we invented our relationships outside of the law, and formalized our financial lives pre-marriage equality.

Alternative dispute resolution techniques offer many great benefits for divorcing couples – they are less adversarial, more open and transparent than traditional divorce proceedings. They are better for both children and the separating couple, as they focus on positive future outcomes for the entire family and constructive vs. destructive issues. They are less expensive – litigated divorces may cost up to $50,000 more. And, they are more private and less stressful.

Jesse Green wrote a wonderful piece in New York Magazine this week which details the divorce of 2 clients of mine who were successful in setting their real pain and anger aside in order to reach a reasonable resolution of their financial entanglements. Is it easy? No. Is it worth the time and effort? Yes. Mediation isn’t for everyone, but even if there is anger and pain in the separation, if you can tap into the years when you understood each other and worked together toward common goals,  you may be able to do that at the end of a relationship as well. To read “From ‘I do’ to ‘I’m done’” click here.

Carol Buell

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