Many people think of divorce as a contentious legal process where the courts ultimately decide the couple’s fate, but that approach is only one of many options. For couples who can work together amicably during their divorce, there is no reason for such an adversarial approach.
Maxim Smith Divorce Matrix
The Maxim Smith Divorce Matrix is a tool spouses can utilize to determine the least expensive, time consuming, and stressful approach to their divorce. Of the four options presented by the Divorce Matrix, every divorcing couple can find the approach that is the best fit for them.
For some couples, the adversarial nature of an in-court divorce is excessive and unnecessary. If you and your spouse are prepared to divorce amicably, Friendly Divorce is a great option. This type of divorce, located at the top of the Divorce Matrix, is best for couples who can agree how to split their assets. It may be easier for couples who have fewer assets to divide or who had clearly defined, separate assets throughout their marriage. However, it’s possible for any couple to make a Friendly Divorce work for them. If children are involved and the parents would like a Friendly Divorce, both spouses should be prepared to make a collaborative decision regarding parenting time, child support, and other parenting concerns.
There are several benefits of Friendly Divorce. First, it allows both parties to avoid the stress and frustration of fighting over assets. If you and your spouse have a generally cooperative relationship, there is no need to create tension by having the courts decide your fates. A Friendly Divorce can also save you significant legal costs. You will know from the outset of the process how much you will pay in fees for your divorce. It is a predictable process that only requires one spouse to enter into an agreement with a law firm, such as Maxim Smith, that specializes in Friendly Divorce.
Cooperative and Collaborative Divorce
The next step on the Divorce Matrix is a Cooperative and Collaborative Divorce. This type of divorce may be necessary if parties do not see eye to eye on everything and some negotiation must be done. It is considered a troubleshooting or problem solving approach where both spouses contribute positively towards determining mutually beneficial terms of their divorce. This type of divorce is a great option for keeping things cordial between spouses even if they may not be able to agree on all aspects of parenting, division of aspects, and other considerations of divorce.
If you want your divorce to be a less strenuous experience but haven’t quite reached agreeable terms with your spouse yet, you can choose a Cooperative and Collaborative Divorce to maintain your amicable relationship with your ex. While it is more expensive than a Friendly Divorce (each spouse hires their own attorney to assist with negotiations), it is still considerably less expensive than an in-court divorce.
Negotiating through Lawyers
For some couples, a collaborative divorce just isn’t an option. Maybe you and your spouse can’t find common ground and you both have a vested interest in protecting your own personal interests during the divorce process. In this case, it may be best to negotiate through your lawyers. Your lawyer is an advocate for you and your best interests, which may not necessarily align with your spouse’s priorities. This can lead to a more adversarial experience where both sides are fighting and trying to come away “winning” while disregarding the other side’s needs.
Unfortunately, there is just no way to know exactly how things will pan out when negotiating through your lawyers. It is an unpredictable and costly process, which is why it is located near the bottom of the Divorce Matrix. However, negotiating through attorneys is still less expensive and stressful than going to court. For this reason, most couples should consider attempting negotiation through attorneys before allowing the court to decide their fate.
Going to Court
When a couple is unable to agree upon the terms of their divorce, even after negotiating through their attorneys, taking the matter to court is the only remaining option. In this type of divorce, the attorneys appointed by you and your spouse will present a judge with the facts of the case and he or she will ultimately determine the division of your assets, spousal support, and a parenting plan, if applicable.
Going to court is at the very bottom of the Divorce Matrix. This is due to it being the costliest option by far. Generally, it also takes the longest to resolve a divorce in this manner. For these reasons, it should be avoided as much as possible. You may be forced to resolve your divorce this way if you and your spouse just can’t agree on a parenting plan or division of assets, are experiencing issues of domestic violence, or can’t resolve other key factors of the divorce.