How Can I Keep My Divorce Out of Court?

Options for Avoiding Divorce Court

When facing the divorce process, many people want to know how they can avoid going to court. Divorce litigation is not only time-consuming and expensive, but it can also be a very stressful process. Additionally, the divorcing parties relinquish a lot of control over the outcome of their divorce case to the courts. This can be incredibly frustrating and can lead to a more acrimonious divorce process as couples feel the need to fight for what they feel entitled to. Luckily, you do have a few options when it comes to keeping your divorce out of court.

Three options for avoiding divorce court are:

  • Mediation
  • Arbitration
  • Collaborative divorce

However, it is important to remember that these processes only work if both parties agree on the different aspects of their divorce settlement, such as property division and spousal support. When a couple can't agree, their case will go to court to be litigated, even if you disagree on only one issue. Consequently, these out-of-court divorce options may not be suitable for everyone. If you are in a high-conflict situation, going to divorce court might be your best option. Your lawyer can guide you in making this decision.

Keep reading to learn more about the different alternative divorce options.

Divorce Mediation

Divorce mediation involves both parties working with a neutral, third-party mediator to negotiate the terms of their divorce. During mediation, they will each retain their own legal counsel, and the mediator will act as a go-between, helping the couple reach an agreement. The mediator is often a lawyer themselves, but they do not represent either party. Consequently, the mediator does not advocate for any one party. It is also important to remember that the mediator does not make decisions for the couple. They may offer suggestions based on their experience, but their job is to be a facilitator.

If you and your former spouse reach an agreement through mediation, you will still need to finalize your divorce with the courts and receive your final divorce judgment. Your lawyer can help you fill out and file all appropriate paperwork. The courts will then review your agreement to ensure it meets legal requirements, and if approved, they will issue a final judgment.

Divorce Arbitration

The primary difference between divorce arbitration and mediation is that the arbitrator can make the same decisions a judge can make in divorce court. Arbitrators are typically former attorneys or even retired judges. Like mediation, both parties will also be represented by their own legal counsel, while the arbitrator remains a neutral, third-party. Unlike mediation, when a divorcing couple agrees to arbitration, they agree to abide by the arbitrator's decisions.

Arbitration is gaining popularity when it comes to settling divorce matters because, like mediation, it is often faster and less expensive than litigating your divorce in court. Additionally, just as with mediation, you will not have to go through a public trial (however, it is important to remember that your court records are still entered into the public record). Arbitration may be a good option for couples who cannot agree but want to keep their divorce relatively private and prefer the lower stress of a less formal environment than court.

Collaborative Divorce

The collaborative law approach to divorce emphasizes working together to come to a divorce settlement. Where mediation utilizes the services of a single mediator, collaborative divorce involves the couple's attorneys and an array of other professionals that help the couple sort through the different aspects of their divorce. For example, you may utilize financial advisors or family counselors. The professionals that you will use in your divorce will depend on your situation and your needs.

Unlike more traditional approaches to divorce, collaborative divorce focuses on working together to achieve a divorce settlement that is equitable and which both parties are invested in. This approach often helps deemphasize the competitive nature of the divorce process.

The collaborative method is particularly popular with divorcing couples who share children. Because this process is known to help reduce animosity and encourage teamwork, it provides parents with a unique opportunity to develop and strengthen their coparenting relationship while still going through their divorce. It also allows parents to place their children's needs front and center. Instead of fighting over custody, they can develop a parenting plan and custody agreement that prioritizes their children's well-being and is supported by professionals' guidance, like child psychologists, social workers, and more.

There is no easy answer to divorce. But, if you are looking for alternatives to traditional divorce litigation, there are other methods you can explore. To learn more about your divorce options, reach out to The Virga Law Firm, P.A. for guidance.

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