Putting An End To Divorce Wars

Eighteen years ago, the movie "War of the Roses" came to symbolize the no-holds-barred marital break-up, where winning was everything. But recently, people have sought a kinder and gentler sort of divorce proceeding, one that allows both sides to hold on to their dignity as well as their rightful share of the joint property.

Most importantly, it keeps anger to a minimum, which enables families to stay intact. This week, The Early Show is looking at some changes taking place in modern divorces.

Messy, long-winded divorces no longer have to be norm, now that more people are opting for mediation rather than litigation.

The Early Show contributor Jill Brooke recently met with a divorcing couple with three children who wanted very badly to keep their divorce civil for the sake of the children.

Historically, "in nasty courtroom battles, divorce evolved into the winner-takes-all mentality," said Brooke. "But now a movement called mediation and collaborative law makes it possible for both parties to win while reducing the emotional and financial costs to the family."

To dissolve their 20-year union, Meg and Russ Fein turned to Dr. Jonah Schrag, who met with the couple as they tried to resolve custody and financial issues. Schrag is guiding them through the process and helping them diffuse the emotional bombs that could prevent them from reaching a settlement.

"Some of the final points about custody of the children where Meg and I had very opposite desires, and sort of her gain was my loss and vice versa," said Russ, "those points were very divisive — if we had attorneys that were aggressively whispering in our ears, we could have veered off into this World War III. And in mediation, it didn't happen and we were able to come up with a solution."

Dr. Schrag "was phenomenal in being able to interpret our feelings," said Meg. "There were so many things we couldn't say to each other and he was able to draw that out so that we could understand how we felt."

According to Schrag, with mediation "You're not sacrificing your right to go to court. All you're doing is saying, let's give a different way a chance here ... Maybe it will come out much better."

So far, so good for the Feins, who avoided the emotional and financial drain of a court-based divorce.

"Irregardless of whether we're married or not, we support our kids," said Meg Fein. "We're there for the kids. And we're a family."