Are Nasty Divorces A Thing Of The Past?

The American Bar Association has endorsed something called a "collaborative divorce." According to MSNBC, the approach "involves the use of attorneys for each party, often joined by other expert consultants." And, instead of lawyers snapping at each others' throats, they "pledge from the outset to work together in crafting an outcome that is fair to all." Sarah Smith, 47, says she and her ex-husband, David Boyle, were able to split up quickly and cheaply ($5,000) by doing a collaborative divorce. "It was definitely the way to go in our situation — we didn't have piles of anger about each other, and we also didn't have piles of money," says Smith. "Our main concern was the welfare of the kids." Avoiding the courtroom also avoids huge fees. Where $19,000 was the median cost for a collaborative divorce at one firm, it was $26,000 for settlements negotiated by rival lawyers, and a whopping $77,000 for full-scale litigation. (The cost for mediation was around $6,000).



"As cases get more expensive, a lot of people don't want to spend the time, the hiring of experts that a trial entails," said Gaetano Ferro, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Not to mention the tone that is set in the family when a split is done in a methodical, sensitive way.

In addition, a new study says that divorced parents do just a good a job as married parents when it comes to raising kids, reports Live Science. Lisa Strohschein, a sociologist at the University of Alberta in Canada, says, "Some parents may overcompensate and be extra-conscientious, and there are definitely some parents who do have problems parenting afterwards. But on average, parents don't change their behavior." What does affect parents — and children? Education and income.

Strohschein found that parents who had no more than high-school degrees became less consistent and relied more on punishment to discipline misbehaving children over the course of the study compared with parents who had post-secondary degrees (college and/or graduate school). Households with an annual income ranging from $40,000 to $59,999 in 1994 showed a greater decrease in nurturing behaviors compared with wealthier homes (more than $80,000 annually).
Of course, having cash doesn't keep Hollywood parents getting nasty — then again, Charlie Sheen never went to college.

More Couples Seeking Kinder, Gentler Divorces [MSNBC]
Divorced Parents Do A Good Job After All [Live Science, via MSNBC]