Methods of Divorce: Discovering the Best Choice for Your Situation

There's sort of a universal picture of what divorce proceedings look like: two spouses squaring off in court with their chosen legal aid, fighting back and forth over every little detail of their marriage. This isn't the way in which you have to handle your divorce, though. 

In fact, there are a variety of options available to spouses seeking to dissolve their marriage, options that provide more of an opportunity to find a way of handling the situation that best suits the individuals involved. To help you figure out what course of action is best for you, we'll look at the different processes available to divorcing couples and discuss each of their merits.

Mediation:

Rather than start with the common process of divorce litigation, let's go ahead and take a look at some of the alternatives. Mediation can be a more amicable alternative to litigation, something that has a lot to do with the fact that you're not going to be in court with separate lawyers. 

Divorces can already create a lot of friction between separated couples, and this friction can easily be heightened through a court setting.  Mediation takes place in a less formal, less official setting and allows individuals the opportunity to discuss their situation person to person, with a mediator overseeing the situation in order to help keep the discussion neutral and deal with the intricacies of legality, finances, and custody. 

Since each side doesn't have to find their own lawyers, and then pay court costs, mediation is a much more cost-effective method of dissolving a marriage. You also have more control over the particulars of your divorce, as the decisions that are made are agreed to by spouses rather than decided by the final say of a judge.

Collaborative Divorce:

This type of divorce process is almost like a combination of traditional divorce litigation and alternative mediation. With a collaborative divorce proceeding, both sides have their own lawyers, but sign an agreement stating that they're going to keep their divorce out of the law courts. 

Rather than sitting down one-on-one with a mediator overseeing discussions, in a collaborative divorce each party sits down with their selected legal aid and typically lets the lawyers do most of the bargaining. This process, like mediation, is typically going to be far more cost-effective than litigation, as well as much faster. 

People tend to choose collaborative divorce over mediation when they feel that their rights can be better protected and their options expanded by having an attorney specifically arguing for their side. Splitting up assets and various properties, deciding on topics like alimony and child support, and figuring out child custody can be pretty complex for many people: precisely why many turn to the option of having their own lawyer.

Divorce Litigation:

Now, discussing the alternatives to traditional litigation may have left the impression that litigation is an unwanted option that doesn't come with a lot of benefits. While it can offer up its own disadvantages, litigation does come with a lot of different benefits - it just depends on understanding the particulars of your situation. 

Divorces can be extremely emotional, and spouses can have so much anger and bitterness built up toward one another that alternative processes just don't work. After all, mediation and even collaborative divorce requires a certain degree of neutrality -  something that's not always possible in a divorce.

A spouse may feel that through mediation they'll be intimidated and bullied into making certain concessions that they otherwise wouldn't be willing to make, whereas in court their lawyer would be able to argue their case to a judge who would make the final say.

Some people feel that this process is more fair and offers more of a likelihood that one party won't unfairly get the upper hand over the other. If there's a great deal of disagreement over the division of assets or custody of children, then turning to the courts may be the more logical option. 

It's also important to point out that with litigation divorces you'll be assured of retaining the legal aid you've hired - unless you chose to fire them - but with collaborative divorce you won't be able to retain your attorney should the process fail and you end up in court anyways. At this point, your collaborative divorce lawyer will have to remove themselves from the case, and you'll have to find a new lawyer and basically start all over again. 

This is why it's extremely important to really assess all of the specifics of your upcoming divorce, as it may become pretty apparent that alternative forms of divorce just aren't going to work.

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