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The Four Divorce Alternatives

Divorce mediation

No two marriages are the same, therefore it just follows that no two divorces will be the same, either.

If you’re a lady who’s pondering divorce, you have numerous choices about how to proceed. In general terms, you need to consider 4 broad classifications of divorce options: Do-It-Yourself (DIY), Mediation, Collaborative and Litigation. Let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of every one.

Do-It-Yourself Divorce

The best suggestions I can give you about Do-It-Yourself Divorce, is DON’T Do-It-Yourself!

The only scenario I can envision when a Do-It-Yourself divorce may make any possible sense, may be in a case where the marriage lasted just two or 3 years and there are no kids, little or no assets/debts to be divided, equivalent incomes and no alimony. In a case like that, a Do-It-Yourself divorce could be achieved quite quickly and inexpensively.


In divorce mediation, a divorcing couple works with a neutral conciliator who helps both parties come to an agreement on all aspects of their divorce. Both parties still need to seek advice from with their own, specific attorneys during the mediation and prior to signing the final divorce settlement contract.

Here are a few pros and cons to think about before choosing if mediation will work for you.

On the “professional” side, divorce mediation may:

  • Result in a better long-term relationship with your ex-husband given that you will not “battle” in court.
  • Be simpler on children because the divorce proceedings might be more serene.
  • Accelerate an arrangement.
  • Reduce expenses.
  • Assist you stay in control of your divorce since you are making the decisions (and the court isn’t).
  • Allow for more discretion. Mediation is personal; litigated divorce is public.

However, on the “con” side, divorce mediation might likewise:

  • Waste time and cash. If settlements fail, you’ll need to begin all over.
  • Be insufficient or unduly beneficial to one spouse. If the mediator is inexperienced or prejudiced towards your hubby, the outcome could be unfavorable for you.
  • Lead to an unenforceable arrangement. A mediation arrangement that’s uneven or badly prepared can be challenged.
  • Lead to legal problems. Any concern of law will still need to be ruled upon by the court.
  • Fail to uncover particular assets. Given that all monetary info is willingly disclosed and there is no subpoena of records, your spouse might potentially hide assets/income.
  • Strengthen unhealthy behavior patterns. If one partner is controling and the other is submissive, the final settlement might not be reasonable.
  • Fuel feelings. Mediation could increase negative habits of a partner with a propensity for physical/mental or drugs/alcohol abuse.

Couples frequently hear about the wonders of mediation and how it is apparently a much better, less contentious, less costly and more “dignified” method to get a divorce. My biggest problem with mediation is that the sole function and goal of the mediator is to get the parties to come to an agreement– any contract! Unless both parties can be fairly sensible and amicable (and if they can be, why are they getting separated???), I think that mediation is generally not a viable option for the majority of women.

Collective Divorce

Put simply, collaborative divorce takes place when a couple accepts exercise a divorce settlement without going to court.

Throughout a collaborative divorce both you and your partner will each work with an attorney who has been trained in the collaborative divorce process. The role of the lawyers in a collective divorce is rather various than in a conventional divorce. Each attorney encourages and helps their customer in working out a settlement arrangement. You will meet your attorney independently and you and your attorney will also consult with your husband and his lawyer. The collective process might also include other neutral professionals such as a divorce monetary organizer who will help both of you resolve your financial problems and a coach or therapist who can help guide both of you through kid custody and other mentally charged problems.

In the collective process, you, your other half and your particular attorneys all should sign a contract that requires that both attorneys withdraw from the case if a settlement is not reached and/or if lawsuits is threatened. If this takes place, both you and your spouse should start all over again and find brand-new lawyers. Neither celebration can utilize the exact same attorneys again!

Even if the collective process succeeds, you will typically have to appear in family court so a judge can sign the contract. However the legal process can be much quicker and less expensive than standard lawsuits if the collective procedure works.

However, I have found that the collaborative method often doesn’t work well to settle divorces including complex monetary situations or when there are significant properties. In collective divorce, just as in mediation, all monetary details (earnings, possessions and liabilities) is revealed willingly. Frequently the spouse manages the “handbag strings,” and the partner is generally uninformed of the details of their financial circumstance. When this kind of inequality exists, the door is typically wide open for the husband to conceal properties. What’s more, lots of high net worth divorces involve services and professional practices where it is reasonably simple to conceal properties and earnings. In addition, the concern of valuation can be quite controversial.

… as a basic rule, my recommendation is this:

Do NOT use any of these first three options– Do-It-Yourself Divorce, Mediation or Collaborative Divorce– if:

  • You believe your spouse is hiding assets/income.
  • Your husband is aggressive, and you have problem speaking out or you hesitate to voice your opinions.
  • There is a history or risk of domestic violence (physical and/or mental) towards you and/or your kids.
  • You or your partner has a drug/alcohol addiction.

Litigated Divorce

The fourth divorce option is the most typical. These days, most of separating couples choose the “standard” design of prosecuted divorce.

Keep in mind, though, “prosecuted” does not suggest the divorce ends up in court. The vast bulk of all divorce cases (more than 95 percent) reach an out-of-court settlement contract. “Lawsuits” is a legal term meaning ‘performing a suit.’

In 80 percent of cases, the decision to divorce is unilateral– one party desires the divorce and the other does not. That, by its very nature, develops an adversarial scenario right from the start and typically disqualifies mediation and collective divorce, because both methods rely on the complete cooperation of both parties and the voluntary disclosure of all monetary information.

Plainly, if you are starting with an adversarial and extremely emotionally charged scenario, the opportunities are very high that partnership or mediation might stop working. Why take the risk of going those paths when odds are they might fail, wasting your time and money?

The most essential and most hard parts of any divorce are concerning an agreement on child custody, department of assets and liabilities and alimony payments (how much and for for how long). Although you desire your lawyer to be an extremely competent mediator, you don’t desire someone who is excessively combative, prepared to fight over anything and whatever. An extremely controversial method will not just extend the pain and significantly increase your legal costs, it will also be mentally damaging to everybody included, especially the children.

Remember: A lot of divorce attorneys (or at least the ones I would suggest) will constantly strive to come to a sensible settlement with the other party. However if they can’t concern a sensible settlement or if the other party is totally unreasonable then, sadly, litigating, or threatening to do so, might be the only method to resolve these problems.

Up till that point both attorneys were “arbitrators,” attempting to get the parties to compromise and come to some reasonable resolution. When in court, the function of each lawyer modifications.

And do not forget, when you remain in court, it’s a judge who knows extremely little about you and your family that will make the final decisions about your children, your home, your cash and how you live your life. That’s a very big threat for both parties to take– which’s likewise why the hazard of litigating is usually such a great deterrent.

Here’s my last word of guidance about divorce alternatives: Weigh divorce choices thoroughly. The bottom line is that every family, and every divorce, is various. Clearly, if you are able to deal with your husband to make decisions and both of you are truthful and sensible, then mediation or the collaborative technique might be best. If you have doubts, it is excellent to be ready with “Strategy B” which would be the prosecuted divorce.

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