Divorce is never an easy decision. It can be an expensive, frustrating experience that is hard on everyone, especially the children. Both parties usually come to the table with resentment, anger, and sadness. However, there are alternatives when it comes to ending a divorce that can affect how everyone feels afterwards. First, let’s take a look at your options:
It is possible to handle the divorce process on your own without the aid of an attorney; however, it’s not advisable. Too many things can be overlooked, and those mistakes are irreversible. The only time you might want to consider filing the paperwork yourself is if (a) this was a short-term marriage, (b) there are no children, and (c) there are little or no assets or debts to be divided.
A neutral mediator can help divorcing couples work out agreements such as visitation, and the splitting of assets and/or debts. Like the DIY divorce, this can be a cost and time saving strategy, especially if couples are amicable towards one another. However, they are still encouraged to consult with their own attorneys because the mediator cannot advise either of you in any capacity.
Like mediation, the collaborative divorce process is less adversarial and avoids a lengthy court battle. However, each party has their own attorney who specializes in collaborative divorce, as well as other neutral professionals such as financial advisors and family counselors. This process takes less time to settle than litigation because the couples and their attorneys are not wasting time and money hashing things out in court.
This traditional model of litigated divorce is the most widely used, although at least one (sometimes both) of the divorcing individuals walk away unhappy with the outcome. Litigation is adversarial by its nature which creates a lot of stress and highly charged emotions. In addition, the final divorce settlement becomes public record for anyone to see, unlike collaborative or mediated divorces.
The best option:
The best alternative out of these options is collaborative divorce. It not only provides amicable resolutions, it also encourages both parties to work together with a team of professionals. In a collaborative divorce, couples agree to openly exchange relevant information (including finances) that will help them work out agreements regarding the splitting of assets and/or debts, alimony support and custody issues. Couples have more control over the divorce process while avoiding long, drawn-out courtroom battles.
If you and/or your family are going through the emotional process of a divorce, please contact Dr. Susan K. Daniel, who is member of the Collaborative Family Law Group of Central Florida. As a Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, as well as a Certified Parenting Coordinator, she can provide specialized conflict resolution skills for families and help children cope with divorce.