March 2018 - Voluntary, Non-Adversarial Divorce Options

Mediator Block Letters If the title of this article caught your attention, chances are your marriage or union, and therefore, your life is not the “happily ever after” you thought it would be. If you conclude that this is not a slump in an otherwise happy marital state, you may turn to divorce. For those who seek a less adversarial divorce route, there are options, namely mediation and collaborative divorce.

Both are voluntary processes that take place outside the courtroom and require cooperation and a desire on the part of the spouses to reach agreements each can live with

Collaborative Divorce
  • Each spouse is represented by a collaborative law attorney.
  • All parties sign a contract to negotiate agreements on various issues including custody, property distribution and support matters.
  • Opposing parties face each other across the mediation table and work as a unit toward a common goal along with any other needed professionals, such as accountants, financial advisors, and custody experts, among others.
  • If any party decides to end negotiations and pursue litigation, the attorneys involved must withdraw from the proceedings. Each spouse then would need to seek new counsel before proceeding, essentially starting from scratch.
Mediation
  • The mediator – often an attorney trained in the mediation process – works to keep the parties focused on matters at hand and facilitate a mutually acceptable agreement between the two parties.
  • Neither spouse is required to retain an attorney, although it is recommended to help ensure each party’s rights are protected.
  • An attorney acting as a mediator will not give legal advice.
  • Mediation can potentially reduce your overall costs when compared to litigation.

While contested divorces can get heated and expensive, the great majority of divorces are uncontested, meaning the spouses reach agreement on the terms of their divorce before presenting those terms to the court for approval. Still, the alternative avenues of collaborative divorce and mediation are worth investigating. A skilled family law attorney can guide you through your options, helping you find the process best suited to your individual situation.

-Steven J. Karch, Esq

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