If you are considering filing for divorce, you might be feeling stressed about the prospect of going to court to have a judge make decisions about how you will divide your property, where your children will live, and whether you or your spouse are entitled to receive spousal maintenance.
If you have a fairly amicable relationship with your spouse, you could be candidates for a less stressful divorce method, such as mediation or collaborative divorce. Talk to your lawyer about the benefits and drawbacks of each method to determine if either might be the right choice for you. Mediation and collaborative divorce are less expensive and more efficient than litigation, but they are not ideal for all couples. Couples who have histories of domestic violence, poor communication skills, and couples where one partner is suspected of hiding assets from the other are rarely suited to these divorce methods. No matter which divorce method you choose, you need to file your divorce paperwork with the Clerk of Circuit Courts to complete the legal process of ending your marriage.
With mediation, a divorcing couple meets with a neutral third party known as a mediator to reach a fair divorce settlement. The mediator does not make decisions for the couple. Instead, he or she guides the couple’s conversations and provides insight to help them reach their own conclusions. Couples who choose mediation have greater flexibility in the divorce process than those who divorce through litigation and in many cases, report greater levels of satisfaction with their settlements and better relationships with each other after their divorces are finalized.
With collaborative divorce, there is no neutral third party. Instead, the couple and their lawyers work out the terms of the couple’s divorce settlement through a series of four-way meetings. Other professionals, such as a real estate appraiser, accountant, or a child custody evaluator may be contracted to provide guidance for certain determinations. This is often a good choice for couples who have no children, few assets, and those who have clear goals for their divorce.
A collaborative divorce is not the same as a “do it yourself” divorce. Although you and your spouse are in control of the divorce process when you choose collaborative divorce, you still work work a lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected and that your interests are expressed. If you complete the divorce process without the aid of a professional, you can potentially cheat yourself or your children out of crucial financial support and legal protections.
If you are considering filing for divorce, consider completing the process through a collaborative or cooperative divorce method instead of going through the stress of litigation. To determine if a form of alternative dispute resolution is the right choice for your divorce, speak with one of the experienced divorce lawyers on our team at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC. Contact our firm today to schedule your initial legal consultation with us.