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The 4 Divorce Alternatives

Divorce mediation

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

If you’re a woman who’s considering divorce, you have numerous choices about how to proceed. In general terms, you need to consider four broad categories of divorce options: Do-It-Yourself (Do It Yourself), 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 give you about Do-It-Yourself Divorce, is DON’T Do-It-Yourself!

Divorce is extremely made complex, both legally and economically. You can quickly make errors, and often those mistakes are irreversible. The only scenario I can envision when a Diy divorce may make any possible sense, might be in a case where the marital relationship lasted only two or 3 years and there are no kids, little or no assets/debts to be divided, comparable earnings and no alimony. In a case like that, a Diy divorce could be achieved quite quickly and cheaply. I would still highly advise that each party have their own different attorney review the final files.


In divorce mediation, a divorcing couple works with a neutral conciliator who helps both parties come to a contract on all aspects of their divorce. Both parties still need to consult with their own, specific lawyers throughout the mediation and prior to signing the final divorce settlement contract.

Here are a few advantages and disadvantages to consider before deciding if mediation will work for you.

On the “pro” side, divorce mediation might:

  • Result in a better long-lasting relationship with your ex-husband considering that you will not “combat” in court.
  • Be much easier on children given that the divorce proceedings may be more peaceful.
  • Expedite a contract.
  • Reduce expenses.
  • Assist you remain in control of your divorce since you are deciding (and the court isn’t).
  • Permit more discretion. Mediation is personal; litigated divorce is public.

On the “con” side, divorce mediation may:

  • Lose time and money. If settlements fail, you’ll need to start all over.
  • Be incomplete or unduly beneficial to one partner. If the mediator is unskilled or biased towards your husband, the result could be unfavorable for you.
  • Result in an unenforceable arrangement. A mediation arrangement that’s uneven or badly drafted can be challenged.
  • Result in legal complications. Any issue of law will still need to be ruled upon by the court.
  • Fail to uncover particular assets. Since all monetary details is willingly divulged and there is no subpoena of records, your other half could potentially hide assets/income.
  • Enhance unhealthy habits patterns. If one spouse is controling and the other is submissive, the last settlement might not be reasonable.
  • Fuel feelings. Mediation might increase unfavorable behavior of a spouse with a tendency for physical/mental or drugs/alcohol abuse.

Couples often hear about the marvels of mediation and how it is supposedly a better, less controversial, less costly and more “dignified” method to get a divorce. My biggest problem with mediation is that the sole function and goal of the conciliator is to get the celebrations to come to an arrangement– any agreement! Unless both parties can be relatively affordable and friendly (and if they can be, why are they getting divorced???), I believe that mediation is normally not a practical alternative for most ladies.

Collective Divorce

Basically, collective divorce occurs when a couple agrees to exercise a divorce settlement without litigating.

During a collaborative divorce both you and your other half will each work with a lawyer who has been trained in the collective divorce process. The role of the lawyers in a collaborative divorce is rather different than in a conventional divorce. Each lawyer advises and assists their customer in working out a settlement contract. You will meet with your lawyer individually and you and your attorney will also meet with your partner and his attorney. The collaborative procedure might likewise involve other neutral specialists such as a divorce financial planner who will help both of you work through your financial concerns and a coach or therapist who can assist guide both of you through child custody and other mentally charged concerns.

In the collective process, you, your other half 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 lawsuits is threatened. If this takes place, both you and your hubby should begin all over again and discover new lawyers. Neither celebration can use the same lawyers again!

Even if the collective procedure achieves success, you will generally need to appear in family court so a judge can sign the contract. However the legal process can be much quicker and cheaper than traditional lawsuits if the collective procedure works.

Though, I have discovered that the collective technique typically doesn’t work well to settle divorces involving complicated financial scenarios or when there are significant assets. In collective divorce, just as in mediation, all monetary details (income, possessions and liabilities) is divulged voluntarily. Often the other half controls the “purse strings,” and the spouse is usually unaware of the details of their monetary circumstance. When this kind of inequality exists, the door is typically wide open for the partner to conceal possessions. What’s more, numerous high net worth divorces include services and professional practices where it is reasonably easy to conceal possessions and income. Furthermore, the issue of valuation can be quite controversial.

… as a basic guideline, my recommendation is this:

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

  • You believe your partner is hiding assets/income.
  • Your other half is aggressive, and you have trouble speaking up or you hesitate to voice your opinions.
  • There is a history or danger of domestic violence (physical and/or psychological) towards you and/or your kids.
  • You or your husband has a drug/alcohol addiction.

Litigated Divorce

The 4th divorce option is the most typical. These days, most of separating couples choose the “traditional” design of prosecuted divorce.

Remember, though, “litigated” does not mean the divorce winds up in court. The large bulk of all divorce cases (more than 95 percent) reach an out-of-court settlement arrangement. “Lawsuits” is a legal term significance ‘performing a claim.’

In 80 percent of cases, the choice 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 frequently disqualifies mediation and collaborative divorce, because both techniques rely on the complete cooperation of both parties and the voluntary disclosure of all financial information.

Plainly, if you are starting out with an adversarial and highly emotionally charged circumstance, the chances are extremely high that cooperation or mediation may fail. Why take the danger of going those paths when odds are they might stop working, squandering your time and money?

The most important and most difficult parts of any divorce are pertaining to an agreement on child custody, department of assets and liabilities and alimony payments (just how much and for for how long). You want your attorney to be a highly skilled arbitrator, you do not want somebody who is overly combative, all set to combat over anything and whatever. An excessively controversial technique will not just extend the pain and significantly increase your legal charges, it will also be emotionally harmful to everyone included, specifically the children.

Keep in mind: The majority of divorce lawyers (or a minimum of the ones I would recommend) will constantly aim to come to an affordable settlement with the other celebration. But if they can’t concern an affordable settlement or if the other celebration is completely unreasonable then, sadly, going to court, or threatening to do so, might be the only way to resolve these concerns.

Up till that point both lawyers were “negotiators,” trying to get the parties to jeopardize and come to some sensible resolution. When in court, the function of each attorney changes.

And do not forget, as soon as 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 kids, your home, your money and how you live your life. That’s a huge danger for both celebrations to take– which’s also why the risk of litigating is usually such an excellent deterrent.

Here’s my last word of recommendations about divorce alternatives: Weigh divorce choices carefully. If you have doubts, it is good to be ready with “Plan B” which would be the litigated divorce.

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