Cooperative Private Divorce
What will be the operating agency aside from the court?
The Office of Collaboration and Dispute Resolution in the Bureau of Mediation.
What would be the costs of Cooperative Private Divorce?
The costs have not been determined yet but should be far lower than a court-based divorce. There will be costs for programming the identification and filing systems, and for administering the process. The filing fee for couples should be much lower than in the current system. Court systems will see fewer cases and thus have lower expenses.
What if couples make mistakes and come up with vague or ambiguous agreements? Won’t the courts have to fix these messes later?
This is the most common concern raised by lawyers and judges. In reality, most "mistakes" currently involve not following the complicated procedures and legal doctrines of family court. It is not a mistake if people separate with an agreement each of them thinks is fair and they can live with, even if a lawyer could have told them they could have gotten a better deal.
Couples who have cooperated in creating agreements are free to redo their agreements on their own without the court, using professional help if they choose. It’s not at all clear that there will be lots of couples going to court to fix agreements.
What about threats and coercion when agreements are not reviewed by a judge?
Unfortunately, some people try to intimidate and coerce during divorce just as they did during the marriage. The current court-based system does not handle these situations well, and in fact may exacerbate the risk by implicitly encouraging people to gain the most advantage in a contest. The instructions for Cooperative Private Divorce warn people not to proceed with this track if they are feeling coerced or threatened. And, people who start with the Cooperative Private Divorce may switch to the court system at any time if they feel the need for judicial oversight.
What mindsets will have to change for Cooperative Private Divorce to be passed,
implemented, and used by divorcing couples?
Mindset #1: The adversarial idea that divorcing people are opponents instead of two people ending a marital relationship and (if they have children) continuing a parenting relationship.
Mindset #2: The paternalistic idea that people cannot be trusted to make their own
agreements and decide what help to seek without a judge looking over their shoulders and evaluating their decisions. If people need a judge, they can ask for a judge.