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The Four Divorce Alternatives

Divorce mediation

No two marital relationships are the same, therefore it only follows that no two divorces will be the same, either.

If you’re a woman who’s considering divorce, you have several options about how to proceed. In general terms, you need to consider 4 broad classifications of divorce alternatives: Do-It-Yourself (DIY), Mediation, Collaborative and Lawsuits. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each one.

Do-It-Yourself Divorce

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

Divorce is very complicated, both lawfully and financially. You can easily make mistakes, and typically those errors are permanent. The only scenario I can envision when a Diy divorce might make any possible sense, might be in a case where the marriage lasted just 2 or three years and there are no kids, little or no assets/debts to be divided, similar earnings and no alimony. In a case like that, a Diy divorce could be accomplished quite rapidly and inexpensively. I would still extremely suggest that each party have their own different lawyer evaluation the final files.


In divorce mediation, a divorcing couple works with a neutral mediator who helps both celebrations come to an agreement on all aspects of their divorce. Both celebrations still require to consult with their own, private attorneys throughout the mediation and prior to signing the last divorce settlement agreement.

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

On the “professional” side, divorce mediation might:

  • Result in a better long-lasting relationship with your ex-husband since you will not “fight” in court.
  • Be much easier on children because the divorce proceedings may be more tranquil.
  • Expedite an arrangement.
  • Reduce expenditures.
  • Assist you remain in control of your divorce due to the fact that you are deciding (and the court isn’t).
  • Allow for more discretion. Mediation is personal; prosecuted divorce is public.

On the “con” side, divorce mediation may:

  • Lose time and money. If settlements fail, you’ll require to start all over.
  • Be incomplete or unduly beneficial to one spouse. If the arbitrator is inexperienced or biased towards your spouse, the result could be undesirable for you.
  • Lead to an unenforceable contract. A mediation agreement that’s lopsided or inadequately drafted can be challenged.
  • Lead to legal problems. Any concern of law will still need to be ruled upon by the court.
  • Fail to reveal specific possessions. Because all monetary info is voluntarily divulged and there is no subpoena of records, your other half might possibly hide assets/income.
  • Enhance unhealthy habits patterns. If one spouse is dominating and the other is submissive, the final settlement might not be reasonable.
  • Fuel emotions. Mediation might increase negative habits of a partner with a tendency for physical/mental or drugs/alcohol abuse.

Couples frequently hear about the marvels of mediation and how it is supposedly a much better, less contentious, cheaper and more “dignified” method to get a divorce. My biggest problem with mediation is that the sole role and objective of the arbitrator is to get the celebrations to come to an arrangement– any agreement! Remember, the arbitrator can not give any advice. All they can do is try to get you to agree. Regrettably, not all arrangements are great contracts, and in fact, oftentimes, no agreement is much better than a bad contract. So unless both parties can be relatively sensible and friendly (and if they can be, why are they getting separated???), I think that mediation is usually not a feasible option for most women.

Collective Divorce

Basically, collaborative divorce happens when a couple consents to work out a divorce settlement without going to court.

Throughout a collective divorce both you and your other half will each employ an attorney who has been trained in the collaborative divorce process. The function of the lawyers in a collaborative divorce is quite different than in a traditional divorce. Each lawyer encourages and helps their customer in working out a settlement contract. You will meet with your lawyer independently and you and your lawyer will also consult with your partner and his attorney. The collective process may also involve other neutral specialists such as a divorce financial planner who will assist both of you overcome your monetary concerns and a coach or therapist who can help assist both of you through child custody and other mentally charged problems.

In the collective procedure, you, your partner and your respective attorneys all must sign a contract that requires that both attorneys withdraw from the case if a settlement is not reached and/or if litigation is threatened. If this takes place, both you and your partner should begin all over once again and find brand-new attorneys. Neither celebration can utilize the very same attorneys once again!

Even if the collaborative process is successful, you will generally have to appear in family court so a judge can sign the agreement. However the legal process can be much quicker and less expensive than conventional litigation if the collaborative process works.

Though, I have actually discovered that the collaborative method typically does not work well to settle divorces involving complicated financial scenarios or when there are substantial assets. In collaborative divorce, just as in mediation, all financial details (earnings, possessions and liabilities) is divulged willingly. Typically the husband controls the “handbag strings,” and the better half is usually uninformed of the details of their monetary circumstance. When this kind of inequality exists, the door is frequently wide open for the husband to conceal possessions. What’s more, lots of high net worth divorces include services and expert practices where it is relatively easy to conceal properties and earnings. Furthermore, the issue of assessment can be rather contentious.

So … as a basic rule, my recommendation is this:

Do NOT utilize any of these very first 3 choices– Do-It-Yourself Divorce, Mediation or Collaborative Divorce– if:

  • You presume your hubby is concealing assets/income.
  • Your partner is imperious, and you have difficulty speaking up or you’re afraid to voice your opinions.
  • There is a history or threat of domestic violence (physical and/or mental) towards you and/or your children.
  • You or your spouse has a drug/alcohol dependency.

Litigated Divorce

The fourth divorce option is the most common. These days, most of divorcing couples select the “traditional” design of prosecuted divorce.

Keep in mind, however, “prosecuted” does not suggest the divorce ends up in court. In fact, the large bulk of all divorce cases (more than 95 percent) reach an out-of-court settlement contract. “Litigation” is a legal term meaning ‘carrying out a suit.’

In 80 percent of cases, the decision to divorce is unilateral– one celebration wants the divorce and the other does not. That, by its very nature, develops an adversarial circumstance right from the start and typically disqualifies mediation and collaborative divorce, since both approaches rely on the full cooperation of both parties and the voluntary disclosure of all financial details.

Plainly, if you are starting with an adversarial and highly emotionally charged situation, the chances are very high that collaboration or mediation may stop working. Why take the threat of going those paths when chances are they might stop working, losing your time and money?

The most crucial and most difficult parts of any divorce are coming to an agreement on kid custody, division of possessions and liabilities and alimony payments (how much and for for how long). Although you want your lawyer to be a highly knowledgeable mediator, you don’t desire somebody who is excessively combative, ready to combat over anything and whatever. An extremely contentious approach will not only extend the pain and significantly increase your legal fees, it will likewise be emotionally destructive to everyone included, particularly the kids.

Keep in mind: The majority of divorce attorneys (or a minimum of the ones I would advise) will constantly strive to come to a reasonable settlement with the other party. If they can’t come to a reasonable settlement or if the other celebration is completely unreasonable then, unfortunately, going to court, or threatening to do so, might be the only method to fix these problems.

If you have actually attempted everything else, and you do end up in court, things can get actually nasty and hostile. Up until that point both attorneys were “arbitrators,” attempting to get the parties to compromise and come to some affordable resolution. Once in court, the role of each lawyer modifications. Negotiations and compromise move to the back burner. Their new job is to “win” and get the best possible outcome for their customer.

And do not forget, once you remain in court, it’s a judge who understands very little about you and your family that will make the decisions about your children, your property, your cash and how you live your life. That’s a huge risk for both parties to take– and that’s likewise why the hazard of litigating is usually such a good deterrent.

Here’s my last word of recommendations about divorce options: Weigh divorce alternatives thoroughly. If you have doubts, it is great to be prepared with “Plan B” which would be the prosecuted divorce.

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