For many, the word “divorce” conjures images of contentious courtroom battles and complicated, drawn-out legal fights that leave both parties financially broke and emotionally broken.
Your divorce does not have to fit this image. There are actually a few different paths you can take to finalizing your divorce, and a few of them occur outside the courtroom and rely on cooperation, rather than conflict. Your divorce lawyer can explain these paths through the divorce process to you in greater detail and help you determine which is the most productive choice for ending your marriage.
Mediation is the process through which a divorcing couple works with a neutral third party to reach an appropriate divorce settlement. During their meetings with the mediator, the couple walks through the issues they need to determine for their divorce settlement, like how their marital property and debts are to be divided and their parenting plan, through a series of guided discussions. Mediation is associated with reduced conflict levels, and couples who divorce through mediation typically report higher levels of satisfaction with their divorce settlements and their relationships with their former partners than couples who divorce through litigation. Additionally, mediation typically costs less than a courtroom divorce.
Collaborative divorce, like mediation, is associated with lower costs and higher levels of satisfaction with the divorce process among couples. And like mediation, Collaborative divorce settlements occur outside the courtroom.
The difference between mediation and a Collaborative divorce is that with a Collaborative divorce, there is no mediator. Rather, the couple and their respective lawyers arrange a series of meetings, during which the couple works together to reach an appropriate divorce settlement. Their lawyers provide legal advice and contact with professionals who can help the couple, such as financial professionals and child custody coaches. Collaborative divorce is ideal for couples who have clear, realistic divorce goals and can work together amicably.
Sometimes, litigation is the right choice for completing a divorce. If you tried mediation or collaboration and could not successfully reach an appropriate agreement, or if personal circumstances in your marriage rendered these options unavailable for you, the courtroom might be your only choice. Do not feel like this is a personal failure or that you are “settling” for this kind of divorce – when you cannot trust your spouse to cooperate or disclose financial information, when you are afraid of the actions he or she might take to retaliate against you, and when you need the structure and external control the court provides, a traditional courtroom divorce is the right choice for you.
When you know your marriage is over, you have a few options for completing the divorce process. Learn more about all of these options and determine which is the most productive course of action for your divorce by discussing them with an experienced divorce lawyer. Contact ShounBach today to schedule your initial legal consultation with a member of our team.
Since 1975, ShounBach has served the Northern Virginia community. Our team brings over 200 years of combined legal experience and has grown to be one of Virginia’s largest family and estate law firms.