Divorce Options

Divorce is defined as “the ending of a marriage by an official decision in a court of law.” The final settlement addresses the issues of property division, alimony, child support and legal custody of the children.

There are several options that may be used to reach a final settlement.

They are:

– Mediation

– Collaborative divorce

– Litigation (traditional)

– Pro Se

 

 

Mediation

Collaborative Divorce

Litigation

Who Controls the Process? You and your spouse control the process and make final decisions You and your spouse control the process and make final decisions Attorneys control the process and a Judge makes final decisions if there is no agreement between the parties
Degree of Adversity You and your spouse pledge mutual respect and openness You and your spouse pledge mutual respect and openness Court process is based on an adversarial system
Cost Usually the least expensive model, but provides the least amount of professional support Costs are manageable, usually less expensive than litigation; team model is financially efficient in the use of experts Costs are unpredictable and can escalate rapidly including frequency of post-judgment litigation
Timetable You and your spouse create the timetable You and your spouse create the timetable A Judge sets the timetable; there are often delays given crowded court calendars
Use of Outside Experts Jointly retained specialists provide information and guidance helping you and your spouse to develop informed, mutually beneficial solutions Jointly retained specialists provide information and guidance helping you and your spouse to develop informed, mutually beneficial solutions Separate experts are hired to support the litigants’ positions, often at great expense to each
Attorney Involvement Even if the mediator is an attorney, he or she cannot advocate for either party. Hiring outside attorneys as review counsel is generally recommended You each retain attorneys who assist you in working toward a mutually created settlement Attorneys are involved in every aspect of the process
Privacy The process, discussions and negotiation details are kept private The process, discussions and negotiation details are kept private Dispute becomes a matter of public record and, sometimes, media attention
Facilitation of Communication The skill of the mediator will determine how well communication is facilitated between you and your spouse The team of collaborative specialists educate and assist you and your spouse on how to effectively communicate with each other No process designed to facilitate communication
Voluntary vs. Mandatory Voluntary – process is outside of the court Voluntary – process is outside of the court Mandatory if no agreement
Lines of Communication You and your spouse communicate directly with the assistance of the mediator You and your spouse communicate directly with assistance from the members of your team You and your spouse negotiate through your attorneys

 

Pro Se Divorce

In a Pro Se divorce, the parties do not hire attorneys, they represent themselves. In as much, they are solely responsible for drafting and filing all of the court required documents including,

  • the summons and petition
  • financial disclosure statements
  • any motions
  • the marital settlement agreement
  • the final divorce judgment

If the couple cannot work out an agreement, they must present their disputes to the court. Acting as their own representatives means that they will each be responsible for presenting their case which could involve calling witnesses, preparing exhibits and questioning the other party.

The pro se alternative usually works when the issues are not complicated such as cases of a short marriage with no children and little or no property to divide.

Be Prepared

Regardless of the divorce option you choose (Mediation, Collaborative, Litigation, Pro Se), certain data is required in order to gain a clear understanding of your financial picture. Click here for a complete list of information and documents needed for divorce.