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Alternatives to Traditional Divorce

Thursday, September 07, 2017

When most people think of divorce, they tend to think of it in terms of the traditional, or adversarial, divorce.

In an adversarial divorce, each spouse and their respective attorney face off in a court of law before a judge, who will then decide the terms of the divorce. The judge in such a divorce is empowered to decide every legal issue of the divorce, from alimony and child support to property division.

Adversarial divorce is built around one basic assumption -- that the spouses in the divorce proceeding see each other as adversaries and are unable to reach any amicable, mutually agreement divorce resolution without judicial intervention. Because of this assumption, traditional divorce can be very messy, unpleasant affairs which can leave both sides unhappy with the result. Traditional divorce can also add additional emotional strain to the situation that can cause lasting bitterness and negatively affect such issues as child custody for years to come.

Fortunately, divorce does not have to be a painful, stressful ordeal. Many couples would prefer to handle their divorce proceedings in a much more civil way, a non-adversarial way that would equally benefit both parties.

For these couples, there are two alternatives to traditional divorce, known as collaborative divorce and mediation, which, when successful, allows them to skip the courtroom and dissolve their marriage in a much more civil manner.

Collaborative Divorce

In a collaborative divorce, the spouses and their respective attorneys sign an agreement to work together or collaborate, to reach a mutually agreeable divorce settlement in a civil, mutually respectful and mutually beneficial way. They agree to do this in lieu of taking the divorce case to trial with a judge.

This collaboration is often encouraged through the use of a 'poison pill' provision, or clause, in collaboration agreements. This clause is used to encourage the two sides to reach an agreement as soon as possible. If the two spouses do not reach a mutually acceptable agreement within a pre-determined time limit, both parties will have to start the process over with new attorneys. This can add considerable time and expense to the divorce process.

Mediation

Mediation is a perfect divorce method for couples who simply want to end their marriage as easily as possible and who do not have any lasting anger or other issues and simply want to end the marriage without the drama of a traditional adversarial divorce.

In mediation, the two spouses and a mutually accepted, neutral third-party, known as a mediator, agree to meet and to work out a mutually agreeable divorce agreement. The mediator will listen to input from both parties and work with them to create a fair settlement. Mediation is also a highly private affair since no one is involved but the couple and their appointed mediator.

In a traditional mediation, neither side is required to be represented by an attorney; however, engaging a lawyer to review a potential settlement is encouraged to make sure that both sides understand the legal ramifications of any divorce settlement.

Mediation can be a perfect solution for many couples.

However, there is no guarantee that mediation will work for everyone. It can take considerable time -- as well as re-starting negotiations -- to work out an agreement.

If you are considering divorce, contact us for more information on which type of divorce may be best for you.

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

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