Did You Know There are Alternative Ways to Get a Divorce?

The classic image of divorce is two angry spouses battling it out in court. While this still happens, the good news is that it’s not the default route.

If you’ve made the decision to end your marriage, you have choices that go beyond simply which attorney to hire. You can also select the divorce method that best reflects your current situation and relationship with your spouse. The primary options are:

  • Mediation
  • Collaboration
  • Litigation

Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Collaborative Divorce

If you and your spouse are in agreement and/or willing to work together to resolve important matters like property division, child custody, and spousal support, collaborative divorce could be an ideal option for you. Both of you work with your own attorneys and professionals like those below to negotiate property division and spousal support, come up with a parenting plan, and make the divorce easier on your children.

  • Divorce coaches
  • Financial advisors
  • Child specialists

The principal advantage of collaborative divorce is that you decide the terms of your divorce settlement instead of a judge who does not know your family and its dynamics. Because you and your spouse are partners in achieving a mutually acceptable resolution, you don’t see each other as adversaries and can be better co-parents to your children. The only time you appear in court is when the divorce agreement is signed, so the stress and expense of courtroom involvement is practically nonexistent.

There are a few potential drawbacks to consider. With a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse must commit to the process. If you fail to agree in all key areas, making litigation necessary, you both have to retain new attorneys and start over with a litigated divorce. Many judges will also refuse to accept a collaborative divorce agreement if your relationship has a history of domestic violence.

Mediation

With divorce mediation, you both work with a trained neutral mediator who helps you come to an agreement on all major aspects of your divorce. While many mediators are attorneys, this is not a requirement. Both you and your spouse still retain and consult with your own attorneys while mediation is taking place and prior to signing the divorce agreement.

Like collaborative divorce, mediation is beneficial in that your co-parenting relationship with your former spouse is likely to be more positive, an outcome that is also beneficial for the children. It is also purely voluntary, which means that neither of you is bound by the mediator’s suggestions.

Although beneficial, mediated divorce does not suit all situations. If you and your spouse cannot communicate civilly or you don’t trust him or her to voluntarily disclose all financial information, litigated divorce may be the best option.

Litigated Divorce

Litigated divorce remains the most common, although it is important to remember that “litigation” is not necessarily synonymous with “bitter courtroom battle.” You can be in complete agreement in most areas, but if you cannot come to terms on an important factor, such as the amount of necessary child support, the divorce must be litigated.

Litigation is also a recommended option if the decision to end the marriage was unilateral. That is, one person wants the divorce but the other doesn’t. This is essentially an adversarial situation that’s not naturally solved by collaborative divorce or mediation. Other conditions that make litigated divorce advisable include a relationship affected by domestic violence and concerns about your spouse hiding assets.

The drawbacks of litigation include the expense, which can add up when the matter takes a long time to resolve, and the fact that you do not control the outcome. A judge may try to be fair, but this does not guarantee that you will receive the assets and financial support you want.

When you decide to divorce, weigh your options carefully. If you and your spouse can work together, collaborative or mediated divorce may be best. Otherwise it could take litigation to settle the terms of your marriage dissolution.

Here at Freed Marcroft we believe in helping clients make informed choices about their divorce options. Once you decide which approach is best for you and your family, we will guide and support you through it. You deserve a happy and financially independent future, and it would be our privilege to help you reach a divorce settlement that will get you there. It’s time to BEGIN!

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