The Collaborative Dispute Resolution Spectrum

In today’s legal environment couples facing a divorce have a realm of dispute resoultion options.  Give the current economic situation, and its affect on state budgets, it is likely that trial court resources will be less available than ever in the coming months and years.  In order to make an informed decision on how best to proceed with a divorce it is important to have an understanding of the dispute resolution spectrum.

At one end of the spectrum is Trial where a court decides a case regarless of the parties’ interests and needs.  This end of the spectrum provides less privacy, less control over the process, very little control over the outcome, little flexibility in the options for resolution, less individual results, more third party control and a great deal of expense.  This end of the spectrum is also slower and less efficient.  At the other end of the spectrum is negotiation without lawyers between couples directly.  This allows for more privacy, control, and very little cost.  The downside is that the spouses do not have access to experts who can help them understand the options that are out there and make sure that they are addressing all of thier needs.  About one-third of my clients and people who tried to do a divorce on their own and are coming to me to clean up the mess.  This is almost always more expensive and provides less options than if they had come to me originally for a full blown litigated divorce. 

Closer to that end of the spectrum is collaborative divorce.  Collaborative divorce allows for both the expertise of lawyers and other professionals and the benefits that come outside of the court process.  These include a faster and more efficient outcome, more control over the process, total control over the outcome, interest based results, low third-party intervention, lower cost and a great deal of individualization.

At the end of the day each point on the spectrum is the right fit for a number of people going through a divorce.  It is important to meet with a collaboratively trained lawyer in order to understand which fit is right for you.  The lawyers at Stephens & Margolin LLP are collaboratively trained and can help you with this choice.

I wish to thank Pauline Tesler and her book “Collaborative Law” (which can be ordered from the ABA web store by following this link: for much of the information contained in this post.

About Daniel Margolin

Daniel Margolin is a founding partner of Stephens & Margolin LLP and a Portland, Oregon native. His practice focuses on all aspects of family law litigation. Dan applies his litigation expertise to provide additional expertise when assisting clients with Family Law Appeals and Collaborative Divorce matters. To find out more or contact Daniel Margolin, visit Stephens & Margolin LLP
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3 Responses to The Collaborative Dispute Resolution Spectrum

  1. There are lot of dimensions to this whole issue.

  2. Cheryl Gowin says:

    The concept of spectrum is very helpful in explaining the range of options for a couple going into a divorce. One element that can also be added to this spectrum is the level of adversary confrontation. Taking a divorce all the way to a court trial moves all along the spectrum to the all out fight scenario. In a trial situation, both parties must get into a fight mode not a settlement mode. You are correct on the need for professional support. We at Discovery Counseling provide support to the divorcing parties in regards to parenting issues and financial planning. We work with the parties, and their legal representatives to help develop a workable settlement.

  3. Trial is a horrible way to resolve a divorce.

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