When I finally decided I was ready to tell my ex-husband that I wanted a divorce, I had no idea what to do after that. It was like I had already jumped the huge hurdle that had been standing in my way, towering over me for so long that I was just relieved I got over it without falling on my face. The thought of what came next didn’t strike me until a day or so later.
At that time, all I knew about getting divorced was that I needed to hire an attorney and that we would probably end up in court. That was a really scary thought! I had no idea that there were other alternatives to getting divorced other than litigation. Some of you may be in the same boat I was, so I found this great article that outlines the different ways to go through the divorce process and the pros and cons of each. I’ve summarized the four divorce alternatives below with a link to the complete article at the bottom.
Divorce is very complicated, both legally and financially. You can easily make mistakes, and often those mistakes are irreversible. The only scenario I can envision when a Do-It-Yourself divorce may make any possible sense, might be in a case where the marriage lasted only two or three years and there are no children, little or no assets/debts to be divided, comparable incomes and no alimony. In a case like that, a Do-It-Yourself divorce could be accomplished quite quickly and inexpensively. Nevertheless, I would still highly recommend that each party have their separate attorney review the final documents.
In divorce mediation, a divorcing couple works with a neutral mediator who helps both parties agree on all aspects of their divorce. The mediator may or may not be a lawyer, but he/she must be extremely well-versed in divorce and family law. Also, the mediator must be neutral and not advocate for either party. Both parties still need to consult with their own, individual attorneys during the mediation and before signing the final divorce settlement agreement.
During a collaborative divorce both you and your husband will each hire an attorney who has been trained in the collaborative divorce process. The role of the attorneys in a collaborative divorce is quite different than in a traditional divorce. Each attorney advises and assists their client in negotiating a settlement agreement. You will meet with your attorney separately and you and your attorney will also meet with your husband and his attorney. The collaborative process may also involve other neutral professionals such as a divorce financial planner who will help both of you work through your financial issues and a coach or therapist who can help guide both of you through child custody and other emotionally charged issues.
In the collaborative process, you, your husband and your respective attorneys all must sign an agreement that requires that both attorneys withdraw from the case if a settlement is not reached and/or if litigation is threatened. If this happens, both you and your husband must start all over again and find new attorneys. Neither party can use the same attorneys again!
The fourth divorce option is the most common. These days, the majority of divorcing couples choose the “traditional” model of litigated divorce.
Keep in mind, though, “litigated” does not mean the divorce ends up in court. The vast majority of all divorce cases (more than 95 percent) reach an out-of-court settlement agreement.
The most important and most difficult parts of any divorce are agreeing on child custody, division of assets and liabilities and alimony payments (how much and for how long). Although you want your attorney to be a highly skilled negotiator, you don’t want someone who is overly combative, ready to fight over anything and everything. An overly contentious approach will not only prolong the pain and substantially increase your legal fees, it will also be emotionally detrimental to everyone involved, especially the children.
For the complete article The Four Divorce Alternatives, click here: