When a marriage is no longer working and a couple is thinking about divorce, each person will need legal help. The end of a marriage should be accomplished without destroying the couple and children involved. Divorce and dissolution of marriage can be accomplished with the help of lawyers who provide the best divorce process for each case.
Family law attorneys outline different alternatives to couples seeking to end their marriages. Family law at Harris, Hunt, Derr and a growing number of other law practices involve different divorce alternatives. There are alternatives when seeking to end a marriage and they don’t all include going to court.
Couples may decide to seek a legal separation or an annulment rather than a divorce depending on the circumstances. Annulments are very difficult to obtain. A legal separation may be a first step in divorce. The couple lives apart but are still legally married and neither party can remarry. Not all states allow legal separations.
An innovative development in the divorce process is called collaborative divorce. This divorce method offers a couple a non-adversarial process to end a marriage. Each person is represented by their own lawyer while they work together with a professional team to resolve marriage disputes privately without going to court.
This is a process where the clients and their attorneys sign a binding agreement, committing to the resolving of issues without going to court. Jointly retained and neutral experts assist in valuation of closely held businesses, guidance on parenting issues, appraisals of commercial and residential assets, and other divorce-related issues. Ideally, a knowledgeable settlement will be reached. Couples might benefit from the addition of a neutral communications facilitator who is a divorce counselor or psychologist. This method has the goal of reaching a peaceful settlement that considers the goals, values, and needs of both people.
The cooperative divorce or negotiated settlement happens when both parties reach an agreement on all or part of the issues in their divorce. This may be the end result of the mediation process where a neutral mediator helps the couple and each of the attorneys bridge differences and reach a settlement. This negotiated settlement can also be achieved with direct negotiations between the couple’s attorneys.
Some of these agreements come after a petition has been filed and some litigation has occurred. Couples can decide they want their attorneys to negotiate a settlement of their case and avoid any court involvement. This is called a cooperative divorce. Success is dependent on each party providing honest disclosure of relevant information without an adversarial disclosure process.
Traditional Divorce Litigation
Divorce attorneys can assist each party in the litigation process that involves court oversight. This expensive and lengthy process involves numerous steps including filing a petition, mandatory disclosures, discovery, retaining experts, mediation, temporary relief, and a final hearing. Based on arguments and evidence, the judge makes a ruling on the divorce issues.
Do-it-yourself divorce appeals to some couples because it can be very quick and inexpensive. But it is only practical if the couple has only been married a short time, has no children, and few assets or debts to be divided. They should have comparable incomes and no alimony demands. It is advisable for both parties to have an attorney view the final documents. This is risky, and expensive mistakes can be made. Couples seeking an end to their marriage should talk to a family law firm for advice on which alternative to use for their divorce.