Before you get too far into your thinking of what solutions you want as far as your post-separation life, you should figure out how you want to get divorced. There are 3 common approaches you can use. At the very least, I recommend that you become informed about these process choices so you can be certain to choose the one that is right for you.
During their initial consultations, I advise clients about the distinction amongst these approaches:
Mediation – A neutral party helps both spouses to reach agreements on issues related to the divorce. A mediator does not represent either spouse; their job is to provide you with information on the law upon which both spouses will base their decisions. With a successful mediation, there is no need to go to court.
Collaborative Process – Also known as collaborative divorce, this is a process where both spouses agree to not go to court opting instead to settle all issues related to their divorce outside of court. Using this process, divorcing couples, along with their lawyers, will work together, openly and reasonably, to arrive at resolution on all applicable matters. This method differs from mediation in a few ways but most notably, both spouses are represented by lawyers who are advocating their best interests.
Litigation – This is the method that most people think of when considering divorce. Both spouses have a lawyer and motions are filed and court hearings are held to reach decisions in the case. This can be more costly than the other methods and both spouses have less input than the other processes regarding how the issues in the divorce will be handled, as they are settled by the judge.
Before making the final decision whether to divorce or how to divorce, I suggest that you consult with an experienced family law lawyer or mediator who can explain the various processes and offer advice.
Which process might be best suited for your divorce? Are you glad you chose a certain process? Or are you regretful of the process you chose? Share your stories with me – send me an email or follow me on Twitter at @sdobsonlawyer and send me a tweet. I want to hear from you!