Ending a marriage is often associated with fighting and financial stress, but a divorce does not necessarily have to go that way. There are actually different ways to approach the process without litigation that can make it easier and faster to do. Litigation in court between opposing attorneys can become heated, dredge up emotions, and take a long time, costing the couple tens of thousands of dollars by the time all is said and done. For the sake of good drama, we only see this type of divorce personified in movies and have come to accept the worst-case scenario as the normal way to go about it.
In fact, people can negotiate peaceably for less money and in less time. One of the ways to do so is through a negotiated settlement. A negotiated settlement is halfway between mediation and collaboration, all three methods avoid trial litigation.
Mediation: Divorce mediation involves counseling by a mediator to help a couple agree on divorce terms. If they can communicate and agree without fighting, mediation can guide them to an agreement in the shortest amount of time. If the sessions become hostile or one party does not want to compromise, then the mediator will likely recommend the couple seek their own attorneys.
Negotiated Settlement: In a negotiated settlement arrangement, each person hires his or her own attorney; however, neither one will initiate the divorce action. The attorneys negotiate on each party’s behalf in a non-adversarial manner to reach an agreement, cooperating to exchange financial information.
Collaboration: A collaboration combines the work of a divorce attorney with other professionals who help the couple to work through points of contention, i.e., one person may specialize in finances, perhaps performing an audit of a family-owned business, and another may assist with child custody arrangements.
All three methods reduce stress on the divorcing couple and the children. Divorces tend to cause a lot of stress because they drag out for years, and frequently put the couple at odds to win custody of the children. Finances and custody are the two most difficult situations to work out, especially when one party owns a business or earns money off the books.
If you can avoid going to trial, you can save yourself many thousands of dollars and move on with your life more quickly. Your expenses escalate quickly when attorneys head to the courtroom to cover the cost of travel and repeated visits to follow up on point after point. You could find years into a divorce that there is no longer much money to argue over because it has all been allocated to attorney fees. If you can manage to be civil to your spouse, you can save yourself and your children a great deal of agony. Divorce is never a pain-free process but if you can work through the agreement without accusing one another of things and agree to share custody, you will find the process smoother and far less costly.