Ways to Handle Divorce are Still Evolving

The pre- 1970 divorce process in the United States was very different from the divorce process today.

In the old days, “fault” divorce dictated that divorcing parties have grounds for divorce, which lead to to couples accusing each other publicly of moral turpitude and misconduct, sometimes with no basis in fact.  Children also suffered greatly, and any possibility of a civil relationship between divorced parents was often impossible.

Then, in 1969 California Governor Ronald Reagan signed the nation’s first no-fault divorce law. The trend continued over the next several years with other states following. The 1970s saw a dramatic increase in the number of divorces in the United States, with many people able to take advantage of the no-fault provisions to state that their marriage was over due to “incompatibility”, without demonizing the other spouse.

Even so, for many years, the word “divorce” conjured up images of a nasty courtroom fight and the brutal rending apart of families.  Television shows (“Divorce Court”), movies (“Kramer vs. Kramer”), songs (“D-I-V-O-R-C-E”)  acknowledged and emphasized the drama and conflict.

In the mid-to-late 1980s, another important change began to occur.  The Alternative Dispute Resolution movement bloomed and gathered momentum.   Training became available for attorneys and mediators to learn how to help parties in a divorce reach an agreement.  Parties could now debate and negotiate in good faith, face-to-face, with the assistance of professionals, in private.

The Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) movement produced mediation (both voluntary and court-ordered), arbitration, and settlement conferences and these methods are regularly used today.

Now a new development has added another option to divorce practice. It is called the Collaborative Law movement. During the collaborative process, attorneys and other relevant professionals (such as therapists and financial professionals) work as a team and information is freely and honestly shared. If either party decides to terminate the collaborative law process and go “traditional”, they can. However, they must both get new attorneys. (to read what the Texas State Bar says about Collaborative Law click here.)

Certainly, there are cases in which a more “traditional”, aggressive approach is needed. Those options haven’t gone anywhere, they are still available and can and should be used when necessary.  However, it is good to know that there are more choices in divorcing than there used to be.  Practical and humanitarian concerns have made it necessary for divorce to evolve from the old “fault” days of pre-1970.  Making the proper choice with the help of a family law attorney can minimize the negative effects of divorce on the parties and family. 

At Kalish Law Office we are able to assist you in determining which path is best for you. Our attorneys are trained and experienced in negotiation and participate in mediation and other alternative dispute options.  Attorney Siomara Ramirez Pitre is an experienced trial attorney who will fight as aggressively for her client’s rights as the particular situation demands.  Attorney Bob Kalish is trained and experienced in collaborative law procedures. 

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