Once you make the decision to divorce, you begin the process of dividing the property, working out support payments, and dealing with children’s custody issues. Sometimes these things can be worked out between divorcing spouses and sometimes they require help from outsiders. The following are eight common options when it comes to divorce, and we can help you determine which option makes the most sense for your situation:
- Arbitration. This can be a straightforward approach and cost efficient. You and your spouse select an arbitrator (usually an ex-judge) to rule on your divorce as if it were a trial. The advantage is everything remains private, cheaper, and you can usually schedule an arbitration meeting sooner than a trial date. Some arbitrations are binding, which means both spouses have to live with the decisions the arbitrator makes, while others are not.
- Collaborative divorce. This is not an oxymoron. Some attorneys prefer to remain amicable and work together for the best interests of their clients. This can be a very effective, fast, and inexpensive solution, but you need to find two lawyers who seek this style of representation.
- Contested divorce. This is one of the most common forms of divorce and is what happens when the husband and/or wife can’t agree on property, debt, support, or custody issues. In this case, your attorney will represent you before a judge and argue the merits of your position. This can become highly contentious and expensive.
- Default divorce. This kind of divorce occurs when you file for divorce but your spouse doesn’t respond.
- Mediated divorce. This can be a good place to start. A mediated divorce involves a third-party mediator that helps to bridge the gap on the issues and resolve the matters fairly. Each spouse can still (and should) hire an attorney to review the issues, but the mediator acts as the unbiased person in the room that is looking for equality.
- No-fault divorce. Here the courts are not interested in finger-pointing and who is at fault for the divorce not working. Both parties agree that neither party is at fault and that the marriage broke down due to “irreconcilable differences.” Airing of dirty laundry and trying to prove why your spouse is the bad person is not necessary.
- Simplified divorce. If you have been married five years or less and have no kids or substantial assets, this kind of divorce may make sense. It is possible to complete this kind of divorce without the use of an attorney quickly and inexpensively.
- Uncontested divorce. This is viewed as the ideal form of divorce in which you and your spouse work out the details of the divorce on your own. If you and your spouse are financially savvy and have good communication, this is a good option. If you are not financially savvy, consult with an attorney to make sure you are being protected.
Where you start may not be where you end up. For example, you may try to work things out with your spouse, but find that you reach an impasse. At that point, you can bring in a mediator, go to arbitration, or even ultimately go to trial. Conversely, there are situations where it looks like a heated trial is inevitable, but after looking at the attorney’s bills, both parties decide it is not worth it and work out a settlement themselves.