Going through a divorce is never easy. There will always be challenges and difficulties to overcome. The good news is, there is more than one way to settle a divorce. What works best for one couple might not be a viable option for another couple.
When a marriage comes to an end, there are many issues that need to be worked out and many unanswered questions. Who will get custody of the kids? Will you receive spousal support? Who gets the house? Who gets the children over the holidays? Who decides which school they will attend?
Knowing the pros and cons of the different divorce methods can help you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse select the method that works best for you both. Each state has its own divorce laws and requirements, however, so it is important to seek advice and guidance regarding the options available to you.
If you decide to use mediation for your divorce, you work with a neutral third-party known as a mediator. The mediator helps both spouses come to agreements about the various aspects of their divorce. Sometimes the mediator is a divorce lawyer, and sometimes they are not, but either way, they should be knowledgeable about your state’s family law.
The main advantages of a mediated divorce are:
- Preserve some appearance of cordiality which can be beneficial if you have children at home
- Reduced expenses
- More control over the outcome of your divorce
- Expedited resolution
The disadvantages to a mediated divorce are that your spouse must agree to negotiate, and if your mediation is not drafted well, you could have problems in the future after your divorce is finalized.
A Collaborative Divorce
In a collaborative divorce, both spouses have their own divorce attorney who is well-versed in collaborative divorce. The attorneys work together and advise their clients during the negotiation process. During the collaborative efforts, other professionals might be called in to help, such as financial planners or therapists. This depends on the specific types of issues that arise during your divorce.
Many couples prefer collaborative divorce over other methods as it:
- Helps avoid most or possibly all court hearings
- Resolves the divorce faster
- Is less expensive
Although, collaborative divorce can be difficult or even impossible if one spouse has more financial power than the other. This can leave the spouses with attorneys who do not have the same experience and put the one with more financial power at an unfair advantage. If both spouses are not willing to communicate and negotiate, a collaborative divorce will not work.
A Litigated Divorce
This is generally the most common type of divorce, and most couples will start the process with this traditional method. It’s important to note that a litigated divorce does not always mean going to trial. If your spouse is not open to trying mediation or a collaborative divorce, a litigated divorce is usually your next best option. If there are issues that you cannot agree on, it may be best to take this route and let a family law judge decide. The major drawback to a litigated divorce is that it is generally the most prolonged method when it comes to getting the divorced finalized. It is also usually the most expensive.
A DIY Divorce
You have the option of completing your divorce without the representation of a divorce attorney, as the courts never require you to have a lawyer. Although, most divorcees and attorneys strongly recommend against a DIY divorce. You may be able to muddle your way through a DIY home improvement project, but a divorce is no time to put your legal DIY skills to the test. The one advantage is less of an upfront cost. However, there are many potential disadvantages, including:
- Not having someone on your side to protect your rights
- Not having the representation of someone who is familiar with state divorce laws
- If your spouse has a divorce lawyer and you do not
- The potential for your spouse to hide assets from you
- More stress and anxiety over your divorce
Hire a Seasoned Divorce Lawyer as Soon as Possible
No matter what kind of divorce method you want to use, you should always hire a seasoned divorce attorney to help you during this often-overwhelming time. Having the knowledge and experience of an attorney on your side can ensure that your divorce is fair to you with any method that you choose to pursue.
Now is not the time to risk any part of your future by trying to handle your divorce on your own. Without legal representation, you could not receive the divorce settlement that you are entitled to, including custody or visitation with your children, spousal support, or child support.
You can learn more about your options for divorce methods by scheduling a consultation with an attorney who is well-versed in family law in your state, such as Sean Smallwood P.A. in Orlando. Having the right team on your side can help you determine the right course of action so you can obtain the best outcome possible for your case. Your divorce will be unique, and you want assistance every step of the way.