For many people, the prospect of going to court to litigate their divorce causes a lot of stress and anxiety. We are often asked if it is necessary or if there is any way to avoid divorce litigation. Fortunately, there are alternatives to taking your divorce to court. Depending on your situation, you may be able to utilize mediation, arbitration, or collaborative divorce methods instead of litigation. You may also be able to file for an uncontested divorce which further expedites the process and can make for a smoother divorce overall.
There are many benefits to resolving your divorce out of court, including:
- The details of your divorce are kept private
- A less stressful process
- Reduced legal and court fees
- Encourages communication
Alternative divorce methods are particularly beneficial to parents. By keeping their divorce out of court, they can begin developing a healthy co-parenting relationship and avoid the more contentious litigation process.
Keep reading to learn about these alternative divorce methods.
When a couple is in agreement about filing for divorce and agrees on all the terms of their divorce settlement, they can file an uncontested divorce. With an uncontested divorce, the couple does not have to go to court to litigate any aspect of their divorce and instead can draft their divorce settlement without input from a judge. Instead, they work to negotiate their divorce with their respective lawyers. They may also utilize mediation or collaborative methods to help them negotiate.
Issues that need to be settled during the divorce process include:
- Property division
- Spousal support
- Child custody
- Child support
It is important to remember that they must agree on all divorce matters. Failure to agree on even one thing, such as spousal support, will result in having to file for a contested divorce and taking your case before a judge.
Mediation has been utilized in divorce cases for a long time. With the assistance of a third-party mediator, the couple will negotiate the terms of their divorce. Mediators can be a significant help to couples who are struggling to communicate but who want to keep their divorce out of court. The mediator acts as a go-between, facilitating negotiations and providing neutral guidance.
It is important to remember that when working with a mediator, the divorcing parties will still need to retain their own legal counsel to represent them during negotiations. The mediator does not represent either party nor do they impose or mandate decisions.
Like mediation, collaborative divorce relies on alternative dispute resolution methods and helps divorcing couples avoid going to court. Before proceeding with a collaborative divorce, both parties will be required to sign an agreement stating that they will act in good faith and use their best efforts to resolve their divorce without litigation.
During a collaborative divorce, various professionals may be used to advise the divorcing couple during the decision-making process. For example, financial advisors may help them negotiate their property and debt division agreement, while a family counselor may assist with custody issues.
Where collaborative divorce and mediation emphasize working together to come to an agreement, arbitration is closer to the litigation experience. An arbitrator acts as a private judge to make the final decision on your divorce settlement. Consequently, the outcome of your arbitration is legally binding. Arbitration is a more formal experience than mediation or collaborative divorce, but not as formal or as time-consuming as litigation. During your arbitration hearing, the judge will review your issue, including evidence presented by both sides, and they will make a decision.
Arbitration is a good option for divorcing couples who struggle to agree but who want to avoid litigation. However, it is important to remember that while arbitration can be less expensive and less time-consuming, it does not offer the same autonomy as other alternative resolution methods like mediation and collaborative divorce. Before moving ahead with divorce arbitration, you should speak with your lawyer to ensure that it is the best option for you.