order to best navigate the divorce process, it is essential to understand the
different ways that the issues of divorce may be resolved.
- People most often think of litigation when they think of divorce. Litigation may be necessary when spouses are unable
to resolve the various issues involved with divorce. Sadly, divorce litigation is generally
emotionally and financially costly.
Fortunately, there are alternatives.
Table or Do-It-Yourself Approach – Spouses are always free to discuss and agree
upon resolutions for some or all of their issues. In some instances, spouses are unable to
communicate meaningfully, but, when communication is possible, the method can
be the least expensive and most effective. This method can also help to define and narrow
the issues between spouses.
Traditional Lawyer-to-Lawyer Approach – Spouses can negotiate through their lawyers. This can be done prior to litigation. This approach generally also coincides with
litigation, meaning that the parties will continue to negotiate a settlement
while litigation proceeds. If a
settlement can be reached on some or all issues, then litigation can be avoided
in part or totally.
– Mediation is a process where the parties meet with mediator and try to
resolve the issues between them. The
mediator is a neutral third-party whose sole job is to facilitate the reaching
of an agreement. The mediator cannot make
decisions for the parties. Mediation can
be done with lawyers present or without lawyers. Some people opt to participate in the
mediation without the presence of their lawyer, but then have their lawyer review
the agreement before signing it. The
important thing to remember is that a mediation is an opportunity to reach an
agreement. Neither party is committed to
entering into an agreement. Each party
is free to terminate the mediation at any time.
Mediation can be done prior to initiating litigation or during the
Collaborative Approach – The collaborative approach is a process where a
divorcing couple commits to working together to resolve their issues without
litigation. It is done with the
assistance of lawyers and, when the couple chooses, with the assistance of
family specialists and financial experts.
The couple also commits to full disclosure of information. The collaborative approach can help a couple
reach an enduring agreement which can be especially beneficial when children
single approach is best for all situations.
Every family has its own unique circumstances. Anyone considering separation or divorce should
discuss these various options with a lawyer.