No matter how rough your marriage was, divorce marks the end of a significant period in life.
Although life together ends, engaging in the traditional divorce procedure means stress and anxiety are just beginning.
In addition to emotional and financial hardships, divorcing couples are experiencing legal challenges.
If you and your spouse decide to resolve the marital dispute in court, a contentious, time-consuming, and costly process is ahead. Going through a marriage crisis means you are already emotionally exhausted. However, starting a divorce process means additional stress, frustration and antagonism are on the way.
In litigation, opposite parties engage in an adversarial court battle. Each party pursues victory regardless of the consequences. Seeking compensation, alimony, child custody, and a portion of marital property, parties often reveal embarrassing details about their former spouses. The publicity of the court trial negatively affects everyone involved, especially children. They grow up traumatized by a fight between their parents, using the court process to portray each other in the worst light. Not only does the litigation wreaks havoc between family members, but it also drains the family financially. Each phase of litigation involves additional costs. Attorney fees and court expenses pile up with each stage of a long and cumbersome process. In short, litigation means vindictive, emotionally and financially exhausting procedure that lasts for months or years. After divorcing in court, former spouses are incapable of engaging in a meaningful co-parenting relationship, while children often experience post-traumatic stress long after the process is over.
But, can your divorce be different? Is marriage dissolution possible without emotional and financial collapse?
Below is an outline of out-of-court divorce settling methods. See how settling out of court can help you save time, money, and energy.
Settling Divorce Out of Court – Alternative Methods
There are two main ways of keeping your divorce out of court: collaborative divorce and mediation. Both offer numerous advantages over traditional litigation. When you settle your divorce out of court, you choose methods with less stress and anxiety, more cooperation, and more time and cost savings. In addition, your relationship gets back on a path of genuine reconciliation and productive post-divorce co-parenting.
What is a Collaborative Divorce?
The key to collaborative divorce efforts is the cooperation between the parties and collaborative divorce attorneys. Similar to litigation, each party retains an attorney in collaborative divorce. But the crucial difference is that collaborative divorce attorneys work together toward the same goal – an out-of-court settlement.
The focus of collaborative divorce is settling a marital dispute without going to court. To that aim, divorcing spouses sign an agreement committing themselves to act in good faith and disclose all material information related to the case. If their clients do not represent facts accurately or fail to disclose all relevant information, collaborative divorce attorneys must resign.
The law puts a significant burden on collaborative divorce attorneys regarding the transparency and integrity of the process. They must ensure their clients are truthful and honest and conduct themselves in good faith using their best efforts in settling. If collaborative efforts fail, the attorneys cannot represent the same clients again, including potential litigation that may ensue.
Without transparency and an atmosphere of trust, collaborative divorce cannot achieve its goal. To ensure transparency, collaborative divorce attorneys hold the so-called four-way conference at the beginning of the process. During the session, spouses get familiar with the basic rules of the procedure and discuss the disputed matter openly. In this phase, they sign a participation agreement, obliging themselves to use their utmost efforts in settling out of the court.
As mentioned in the introduction, collaborative divorce attorneys work shoulder-to-shoulder to provide the best possible outcomes for their clients. Unlike litigation attorneys who push their clients into an even greater conflict, collaborative attorneys cooperate closely, ensuring the spouses settle and reconcile. In the process, many collaborative divorce attorneys develop sincere friendships, which is an added benefit for their clients.
Mediating Divorce Disputes
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution mechanism that differs from collaborative divorce, but they both share the same goal of settling a divorce out of court.
In mediation, a neutral third party conducts sessions facilitating negotiations between the divorcing couple. The mediator is a retired judge or an attorney with special negotiation skills and subject matter experience. The key feature of a good mediator is impartiality and neutrality. Unlike collaborative (and litigation) attorneys, mediators do not represent anyone and do not have a fiduciary duty to any party. They cannot propose solutions or give legal advice. Similarly, they are not authorized to issue a binding decision resolving the dispute, which differs them from state-appointed judges.
The role of mediators is to encourage the parties to resolve their legal issues through negotiations. Mediators use communication and negotiation skills to create an atmosphere of trust, enabling a free flow of information. A friendly atmosphere allows the parties to settle their differences and sign a mediation agreement resolving their dispute.
In the introduction phase, the mediator presents themselves and gives their credentials, after which they explain the basic rules of the process, allowing the parties to offer their initial remarks regarding the dispute. After that, each party goes to a separate room for private sessions. The mediator goes back and forth between the session rooms talking confidentially with the parties and evaluating their arguments. During that phase, the mediator estimates the possibility of settling. In open sessions, the divorcing spouses discuss matters openly, negotiating the disputed issue and bringing offers and counteroffers. The mediator stays neutral and unbiased, facilitating their negotiations and helping them find a common language.
What are the Benefits of Settling Divorce Out of Court?
Both collaborative divorce and mediation share many benefits litigation lack, such as confidentiality, a sense of control, reconciliation, and the use of experts. Each takes your divorcing experience to another level. Together they can bring harmony to disrupted relationships and enable effective co-parenting after the divorce.
Divorcing spouses can rest assured their sensitive private information will never become part of the publicly accessible record. Alternative methods are confidential. Attorneys and mediators cannot reveal information during the settling process or in case of future litigation if out-of-court efforts fail.
Unlike litigation, where parties do not have control over the ruling of a state-appointed judge, out of court divorce settlement means parties are behind the steering wheel, changing mediators and collaborative attorneys whenever they want or abandoning negotiations altogether.
Out-of-court methods are non-adversarial, meaning they focus on healing and reconciliation. Collaborative divorce attorneys and mediators dig deeper than litigation judges. Through negotiations and open discussions, they explore the root causes of the marriage crisis. With the experts, they help spouses to resolve underlying emotional issues and continue their post-divorce relationship as friends and cooperative parents.
Settling complex divorce issues out of court would have been impossible without the help of experts. Collaborative divorce and mediation rely on the expertise of financial specialists, appraisers, and child psychologists, assisting in dividing marital property and ensuring children go through a divorce without emotional scars. In contrast to litigation, alternative methods use joint expert teams. Professionals from various fields work together to provide both parties with neutral, unbiased, and accurate factual information.