One of the reasons that people find divorce so intimidating is that most people presume the only way to end a marriage is through litigation. Needing to fight in court over custody terms and the division of property is an experience many people would prefer to avoid. It can also be expensive, costing both you and your ex up to five figures, to say nothing of the impact of splitting everything you own!
The good news is that you don’t have to stay in an unhealthy or unhappy marriage just to avoid a litigated divorce. You and your spouse have alternative options beyond litigation that can help you dissolve your marriage. These options can help you divorce more quickly, maintain more control over the terms set in the divorce and even keep your overall divorce costs lower.
Collaborative law involves you working together
People often see divorce as adversarial, but you can work together instead of fighting against each other. In a collaborative divorce, the couple divorcing acknowledges that they have the same goal and decides to work as a unit for a successful, fast and often affordable collaborative divorce.
The spouses can choose to communicate directly or via attorneys to negotiate specific terms for the various matters that would otherwise go through the courts. They can maintain control over issues like dividing up their belongings and deciding how to structure the parenting plan for any minor children that they share.
Mediation and arbitration are also options for divorcing couples
Sometimes, the negative emotions between spouses or differing perspectives on the situation prevent a divorcing couple from working directly with one another. Couples who want to avoid litigation but who don’t agree on terms for the divorce may find that mediation or arbitration can help.
In both of these alternatives, a neutral third party helps the couple resolve outstanding issues. In arbitration, that neutral third party creates a solution that they propose to the couple, which may just be a starting point for more negotiating. In mediation, the goal of the third party is to facilitate mutual compromise for joint decision-making.
Given the risk for mistakes or manipulation in a non-litigated divorce, it’s important that you consider the benefits offered by having your own attorney. Your lawyer can help you decide if one of these options could work well for your family.